The " new masculinity": Addiction treatment as a reconstruction of gender in Puerto Rican evangelist street ministries

Helena Hansen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This article, based on ethnographic fieldwork including twelve months of participant observation and 428 interviews with 84 converts and leaders in Pentecostal ministries founded and run by former addicts in Puerto Rico, describes redefined masculinity as a treatment for addiction. Industrial disinvestment and resulting unemployment and drug trade in urban North and Latin America have led to narcotic addiction among Latino and African American men and attendant homicide, infection, and incarceration. Pentecostal-evangelical street ministries are prevalent in these regions. Their alternative vision of masculine honor and power addresses a cultural crisis of men's social space. They replace the unachievable ideal of the male breadwinner with an image of male spiritual power. In place of the violence of the drug trade, they cultivate male domesticity and responsibility for the home. In place of a deleterious drug economy, they offer the social and cultural capital of ministry networks and biblical knowledge. Yet the trajectories of ministry converts reveal the limits, as well as the promise, of evangelist masculinity as a treatment for addiction. In the course of building leadership among their converts, the ministries create their own, internal hierarchies, fall short of the spiritual democracy they espouse, and lead to relapse among those left at the bottom.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1721-1728
    Number of pages8
    JournalSocial Science and Medicine
    Issue number11
    StatePublished - Jun 2012


    • Addiction
    • Caribbean
    • Gender
    • Latin America/Latinos
    • Masculinity
    • Moral economy
    • Political economy
    • Puerto Rico
    • Spirituality/religion

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Health(social science)
    • History and Philosophy of Science


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