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A problematised critical approach: Constructions of metrosexualities in the UK and Malaysia

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date05/2020
Number of pages354
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This thesis challenges the dominance of critical thinking and social constructivism (“critical social constructivism”, or CSC) in Western-dominated academia, especially in the UK. The thesis attributes CSC to Western individualism and challenges it with Eastern collectivism. Instead of the typical critical approach, it employs a problematised critical approach. It revolves around self-reflection and self-reflexivity of dominant (critical) practices in academia. Using CSC’s arguments about anti-generalisation and knowledge being socially constructed, this thesis argues that the construction of knowledge is also socially constructed and non-generalisable. It also deconstructs Vygotsky’s social constructivism as individualistically interpreted. This forms an argumentative thesis that is critical of being critical: “critical of critical”.

This thesis presents philosophical research, which is illustrated through a linguistic study on the discursive constructions of metrosexualities in the UK and Malaysia. It challenges dominant research practices, from literature review and theoretical framework to research methods and presentation of findings. This includes comparing British and Malaysian research on metrosexuality, and deconstructing dominant theories in discourse and gender studies. Thus, it presents research on research: “research of research”.

This thesis calls for the awareness of culture in one’s thinking: “thinking of thinking”. It highlights Vygotsky’s cognitive substructures (a neglected concept from his theory on social constructivism) and presents East-West perspectives like cognitive substructures throughout the thesis. Also, it claims that social or cultural research not only involves the studied culture(s), but also the researcher’s culture: “culture of culture”.

This thesis concludes with self-reflection and self-reflexivity of the thesis that is also built on self-reflection and self-reflexivity: “self-reflection of self-reflection” and “self-reflexivity of self-reflexivity”. The individualistic-collectivistic themes reiterated throughout the thesis are: individual vs collective, independent vs (inter)dependent, existentialism vs essentialism, anti-generalisation vs generalisation, active vs passive, autonomous vs heteronomous, and inductive/explorative vs deductive/confirmatory. If diversity is justified by knowledge as socially constructed, cultural differences justify how knowledge is socially constructed.