Bodybuilding: A Subcultural Analysis
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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This ethnographic study attempts to give an insight into subcultures while focusing upon the history, formation and application within the modern day society. Cohen’s (1995) early theory of subculture is supported by Klein (1993) who applies these theories to the sport of Bodybuilding with the suggestion that it conforms to the traditional characteristics. The primary research of this study focuses on the key themes of bodybuilders’ isolation from the broader community, the image that they portray as well as their relationships with other members within the same subculture. These results are achieved by drawing through the concept of drug use as well as using the popularity and media coverage of both tested and untested Bodybuilding shows as a benchmark for the bodybuilders’ social position within the subculture and the broader community. Goffman (1959) and Foucault’s (1974) theories of agency and structure will help to outline the social expectations faced by bodybuilders and the influences that they produce. The issue of steroid use is further developed to reveal how groups may be formed within the subculture and how it is a driving force in the establishment and sustainability of relationships within it. Interviews were conducted with amateur bodybuilders including a mix of natural bodybuilders and those who use steroids to provide data for the discussion. It was established that bodybuilders are aware of the subculture that the sport produces and that there are mixed feelings of the negative imagery associated with it. The data collected from within the Bodybuilding subculture goes on to prove that further groups are formed there due to a variety of reasons, namely differences in body size and drug use. It is interesting to discover how once people break broader social expectations and become a part of a subculture that new expectations are set and the same process is repeated within it. It also becomes apparent within this study that the very reason that individuals are grouped into a subculture by the broader community, being exceptionally large and using steroids, becomes the very reason that untested Bodybuilding is so much more popular than natural Bodybuilding.
DEGREE OF BACHELOR OF SCIENCE (HONOURS) SPORT DEVELOPMENT
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