Social Science, Gender Theory and the History of Hair
The author seeks to illuminate points of contact between social scientific theory and the history of facial hair in the West. It offers four general conclusions. First, the cultural meanings of beards and shaving have proved deep-seated and durable, even if not fixed or universal. Second, facial hair and shaving have been used to establish and communicate contrasting social and ideological identities both in a given era and across time. Third, the history of facial hair both supports and amends the theory of ‘hegemonic masculinity’. Finally, beard history illustrates how men of the West in every era have relied on the idealised male body to assert and justify an authoritative model of manliness.