Exploring Chinese Men’s Friendship Talk: Discourses, Identities and Masculinities

Zhang, Yang. 2023. Exploring Chinese Men’s Friendship Talk: Discourses, Identities and Masculinities. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The past decades have seen the rise of studies on masculinity and language; however, there is very little empirical research given on the topic of men’s talk in contemporary China. With empirical evidence collected from two male friendship groups, this thesis explores how Chinese men construct friendships and gender identities in their spontaneous talk. The findings of this thesis contribute to gender and language studies with ethnography-informed discourse analysis and sociocultural linguistics. The empirical evidence from the participants’ friendship talks offers insights into intersectional identities and masculinities in the Chinese context. The other original contribution to knowledge of this research is closing a gap in the existing study of Chinese masculinity, which does not yet offer extensive conclusions in terms of a linguistic perspective on men’s lived experiences. My study adds to the literature on Chinese masculinity by enhancing two underexplored topics: male homosociality in contemporary China and sexual experiences as a retold narrative practice.

This thesis explores both the style and discourse of the narratives, conversational humour and personal talk that frequently emerge from men’s talk. Various emerging social constructs, including locality, social class and age, interact to construct participants’ intersectional identities and masculinities. Chinese men in this research still associate with a dominant masculinist discourse that devalues women and femininity. Further, they align themselves with success- and wealth-based hegemonic masculinity. They use their personal talk to define their understanding of male friendship, which suggests that ‘male friendship as a virtue’ has its contemporary expressions. Even though they show a desire to disclose their feelings, their personal and even emotional talk is still a site to lecture, police and reinforce hegemonic gender norms and expectations.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):



sociolinguistics; gender; masculinity; men's talk; Chinese men

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


31 March 2023

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

19 Jun 2023 12:30

Last Modified:

26 Jun 2023 14:54



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