Throughout the extensive literature on conflict theory, there exists atendency to link masculinity or masculine practices to the outbreak of armedviolence. Scholars such as Hartsock (1989) and Barry (2011) propose that menpossess a natural capacity for brutality which inevitably results in armedviolence.
Yet it is not justifiable to simply assume that armed violence issolely rooted in masculine practices as this theory fails to acknowledge thewider context in which conflict often unfolds. Other authors includingHutchings (2008) provide a more nuanced explanation, highlighting that ratherthan a causal link, the attributes and practices of masculinity provide aframework for understanding armed violence. Understanding masculine practicesand ideals can provide insight into why men are motivated to become involved inarmed violence. However, it is difficult to interrogate masculine practices inisolation as masculinity itself is intersected by other aspects of identityincluding ethnicity and socio economic status which also influence men’sactions. Thus, in attempting to understand how armed violence originates, it isimportant to consider the interplay of these identities and their connection tomen’s motivations in situations of conflict. Moreover, while masculinepractices may provide a lens for exploring mobilization, they do not adequatelyexplain why conflict erupts in the first place. As Fogarty (2000) suggests,every conflict has immediate causes and antecedent causes and thus we cannotignore the wider context in which most conflicts are rooted. Using Khan’s(2010) ethnography of young male political mercenaries involved in the Karachiconflict of 1984 to 2002, this essay will seek to illustrate the complexinteraction between masculine practices and other significant factors whichcontributed to the rise of conflict.
It will also examine the importance ofother identities, particularly ethnicity and socio economic background incontributing to men’s mobilization.