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Species - a user's guide to young men

It's official: Men are ‘more complicated' than ever before.
• Discovery Networks has completed a study of more than 12,000 men in 15 countries and consulted some of the world's leading experts in male behaviour
• This groundbreaking research has revealed how 21st century pressures have caused men to enter a new stage in their evolution
• Their lives are now more complex than ever before, and as result men are under increased pressure to deal with their changing role

There are four types of modern man…

1. ‘Pressured Provider' - 26% are traditional family men with a conservative view of his role in family and society
2. ‘Modern and in Control' - 34% are men who have a modern view of gender roles and are able to juggle numerous commitments
3. ‘All About Me' - 26% of young men prioritise themselves over relationships and are less family oriented
4. ‘Non-Committal' - 14% live for the day and shy away from serious commitment or responsibility

There are significant themes that young men share in their lives…

• Young men are delaying and reordering the traditional milestones of growing up
• Greater equality for men and women means relationships between them have never been so complex
• Young men are delaying becoming dads, but not because they don't care about having kids
• Young men are spending more time and money on their looks, but being aware of their image can bring anxiety as well as pride
• Safer sex and potency pills, binge drinking and super foods. The more hype about what makes a healthy life, the harder it is to live

Taken from the largest ever study into young men…

• Survey of over 12,000 men between 25 and 39 years old in 15 countries
• We spoke to men in; Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, France, Italy, Spain, Romania, Hungary, Poland, Russia, UK, Norway, Denmark, Turkey and South Africa
• They completed lifestyle diaries, a segmentation analysis, telephone interviews and in depth lifestyle interviews at their homes
• We consulted over 50 experts; academics (professors of gender studies, psychology, sociology), economists, marketers, journalists and social commentators
• We've looked at the whole picture: attitudes, behaviours, hobbies, interests, attitudes and values, media usage and expenditure levels

We reckon we understand men better than anyone

• Discovery is the number-one non-fiction media company reaching more than 1.5 billion cumulative subscribers in over 170 countries
• Through TV and digital media, Discovery's 100-plus worldwide networks include Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Discovery Science and Discovery HD
• In Europe, the Middle East and Africa, 12 Discovery brands reach 199 million cumulative subscribers in 103 countries with programming customised in 24 languages

Study background

A six pack, a fat wallet or a good heart - without any consensus on what masculinity stands for in the 21st Century, today's men are creating their own models of masculinity that better fit with the demands of modern times. At work, the home and in life as a whole, men are having to negotiate between different aspects of traditional and ‘modern' man to define their own unique blend and carve out a role for themselves in today's society of equals.

Whilst today's man is not in crisis, this negotiation results in areas of tension in men's lives as they try to meet competing demands and pressures. Economic changes make it harder to get and keep jobs, social changes place expectations on men to be both provider and carer for their families, and cultural changes mean men feel obliged to strive ever harder to match the successful lifestyles they see in the media.

Discovery's groundbreaking research concludes that the complexity of the male role in today's society is a new stage in the evolution of masculinity, rendering previous labels like ‘metrosexual' and ‘alpha-male' redundant.

The research, which surveyed more than 12,000 men in 15 countries and consulted some of the world's leading experts on male behaviours, revealed significant common themes across young men aged 25-39 years. In all, the study has uncovered 18 life issues which help to explain young men's attitudes and behaviours in the most important areas of their lives. These life issues all play a part across all young men's lives regardless of where they live, but some life issues have particular relevance in certain markets and among certain types of young men.

The South African angle

In South Africa, a sample of 600 interviews was conducted by a combination of telephone and face to face interviewing to ensure a broad cross-section of men aged 25-39. Fieldwork was undertaken by Synovate.

Our research in South Africa suggests that young men here are adapting well to the many changes and complexities which modern society presents. The following life issues apply in all areas of our study but have particular resonance with the young men of South Africa.

Young men are delaying and reordering the traditional milestones of growing up - Men are waiting until later and later in life before they pass the milestones of reaching manhood, such as buying a house or having a child. Our study shows that over a third of young South African men say they want to delay marriage and children for as long as possible (35% vs. European average of 16%). There are no significant differences by ethnic group.

Young men today have a much harder time trying to balance the different areas of their lives than previous generations - In meeting the demands of work, lifestyle, family, relationships and friends, they often feel pulled in different, sometimes contradictory, directions. 48% of young South African men say they feel under pressure to do as many different things as possible. This is somewhat higher than the European average of 32%.

Today, what it means to be successful and self-fulfilled is much more up to the individual - young men are turning for inspiration to the people they see in their everyday lives rather than looking to the media to provide role models. Success is not just measured in material terms. 65% of young South African men say their inner satisfaction with life has nothing to do with how much money they have. This compares to the European average of 45%.

Young men are delaying becoming dads, but not because they don't care about having kids - Aside from the practical issues of financial provision, young men want to be more involved than their own dads were in fatherhood, and they consider intimacy with their children as a top priority. In fact, men will go as far to say that they can bring up a child just as well as a woman - 72% in South Africa agree, higher than the European average of 63%. And three quarters of young men in South Africa say that what they want most in life is to have/raise children.

Safer sex and potency pills, binge drinking and superfoods. The more hype about what makes a healthy life, the harder it is to live - The lifestyle factors of young men, such as hedonistic socialising and stressful work patterns often counteract their attempts to be healthy. The volume of media coverage about young men's health can create the impression that it is in a state of crisis. 63% of young men in South Africa say they often worry about their health. To avoid looking ‘feminine', young men prefer to talk about improving their health in masculine terms, such as going to the gym or going to the doctor to ensure they are healthy enough to provide for their family. Fitness is very important to the young men of South Africa: 74% say it is a priority for them, compared to the European average of 53%. The social aspect of fitness is also of great importance to them.

Prof. Kopano Ratele, Acting Director and Professor in the Institute of Social and Health Sciences at the University of South Africa said: “The findings of Species: A User's Guide to Young Men are deeply resonant with challenges and balancing acts about masculinity that face South African young men. The study confirms a significant proportion of the findings of my own work in SA.”

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