Educated at Manly and North Sydney High Schools, Raewyn took a BA Hons degree at University of Melbourne and a PhD at the University of Sydney. She was an activist in the New Left of the 1960s. When appointed Professor at Macquarie University she was one of the youngest people ever appointed to an academic chair in Australia; after a 43-year academic career she was one of the oldest people to hold one.
Raewyn's partner, Pam Benton, was an activist in the women's movement, a psychologist, a social researcher, a writer, and a public servant. Pam was one of the founders of the Older Women's Network in Australia, shared in setting up the first women's health centre in South Australia, and was involved in developing Equal Opportunity policy machinery in New South Wales. A collection of her writing was published as Kept on Dancing. Pam died in 1997 after a long struggle with cancer. Pam and Raewyn have one daughter, Kylie Benton-Connell.
Raewyn became known for research on large-scale class dynamics (Ruling Class, Ruling Culture, 1977 and Class Structure in Australian History, 1980), and on the ways class and gender hierarchies are made and re-made in the everyday life of schools (Making the Difference, 1982). She developed a social theory of gender relations (Gender and Power, 1987), which emphasised that gender is a large-scale social structure not just a matter of personal identity.
In applied fields she has worked on poverty and education (Schools and Social Justice, 1993), sexuality and AIDS prevention, gender equity, violence prevention, and labour movement strategy (Socialism & Labor, 1978).
Raewyn Connell is best known outside Australia for studies of the social construction of masculinity. She was one of the founders of this research field and her book Masculinities (1995, 2005) is the most-cited in the field. The concept of hegemonic masculinity has been particularly influential and has attracted much debate. She has been an advisor to UNESCO and UNO initiatives relating men, boys and masculinities to gender equality and peacemaking.
Recently Raewyn has developed a sociology of intellectuals in the context of neoliberal globalization. Her book Southern Theory (2007) critiques the northern bias of mainstream social science, and surveys social theories that arise in the global periphery.
Raewyn's style of sociology tries to combine empirical research, structural theory, social critique, and relevance to practice. Much of her research uses biographical (life-history) interviewing, but she has also published survey research, historical research, institutional analysis, and social theory. She has written or co-written twenty-two books and more than 150 research papers (see the list below); her work is translated into 16 languages. The most recent sole-authored book, combining work from several research projects, is Confronting Equality (2011).
Raewyn has been an active member of The Australian Sociological Association. In 2010 the Association established the Raewyn Connell Prize, awarded every two years, for the best first book in Australian sociology.
Raewyn Connell is a transsexual woman, making a formal transition late in life. Most of her earlier work was published under the gender-neutral name R. W. Connell.
Interviews with Raewyn
Research publications complete list
Professor of Education, University of Sydney.
Professor of Sociology, University of California, Santa Cruz.
Foundation Professor of Sociology, Macquarie University.
Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Flinders University of South Australia.
Lecturer in Government, University of Sydney.
Commonwealth Postgraduate Research Student, University of Sydney.
Commonwealth Scholar and Trinity College Scholar, University of Melbourne.
Overseas Research Fellow, National Research Foundation, South Africa.
Marie-Jahoda Professor of Gender Studies, Ruhr-Universität Bochum.
Professor of Australian Studies, Harvard University.
Visiting Professor, Program for the Study of Women and Men in Society, University of Southern California.
Visiting Scholar, A.E. Havens Center, Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin - Madison.
Honorary Visiting Scholar, Department of Sociology in Education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto.
Visiting Professor, Department of Curriculum, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto.
Honorary Visiting Scholar, Department of Sociology of Education, London University Institute of Education.
Post-doctoral Fellow, Center for Social Organisation Studies, Department of Sociology, University of Chicago