The work of seduction
: men, masculinity, and mediated intimacy

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis interrogates a cultural formation commonly referred to as the ‘seduction community’. In this community-­‐industry, heterosexual men undertake various forms of skills training and personal development to attain greater control and choice in their sexual and intimate relationships with women. Shifting attention away from the overdetermined cultural figure of the ‘pickup artist’ and on to the lived experiences of socially located men, I complicate a dominant popular narrative which characterises those who participate in this community-­‐industry as pathetic, pathological or perverse. Drawing on ethnographic research undertaken within the London seduction community — a central locus within a wider transnational network — I advance an analysis of this community-­‐industry as a site of mediated intimacy. I argue that this cultural formation is not a deviation or departure from current social conventions, but rather an extension and acceleration of existing cultural norms. That is to say, the underpinning logics of the London seduction community are consistent with broader configurations of intimacy and subjectivity in the contemporary British context, and thus require a different set of analytic questions. Approaching the seduction community in this way, the thesis contributes to debates within and beyond cultural studies and sociology concerning formations of gender and sexual subjectivity, modalities of intimacy and relationality, and questions of power and sexual politics. Paying close attention to the discursive patternings, relational dynamics and affective rhythms of this community-­‐industry, I elaborate an approach to the study of men and masculinities that foregrounds the analysis of masculine subjectivity and men’s practices. Central to this project is an interrogation of postfeminism as a social and cultural sensibility closely related to neoliberalism, and one that has profound implications for the organisation of contemporary sexual and intimate life.
Date of Award1 Mar 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorChristina Scharff (Supervisor) & Rosalind Gill (Supervisor)

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