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Boyhood has often been defined as the opposite of girlhood and has been differentiated from adult masculinity. This has led to different concerns about boys’ specific circumstances and to portray boys as either being in crisis or as causing social problems. This entry offers an overview of different conceptualizations of boyhood in popular and scientific discourses, focusing on gendered perspectives on boys. It also discusses boys’ shifting relations to gender and sexuality over time.

History of Boyhood

In modern times, boys and girls have often lived in separate spheres and under somewhat distinct conditions. In the United States in the 19th century, for instance, boys were often freer than girls to roam and were allowed to play and carry out their chores without adult supervision. There were, ...

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