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The role of the body in men's biographical narratives: Sport, food and work.

McGowan, Fiona Elisabeth; (2004) The role of the body in men's biographical narratives: Sport, food and work. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Contemporary society is increasingly concerned with matters relating to health and body image, a concern which applies equally to men and to the male body. This thesis presents findings of a qualitative sociological study exploring perspectives on health and experiences of embodiment among a sample of Dutch men at different stages of the life course. The focus of the research was to examine how male embodiment related to ideas of masculinity through the life course. Respondents were selected to meet the criteria of age - between 20 and 40 years old - a period identified as being a significant stage of the life course because it is marked by transitions from youth to adulthood and from early adulthood into middle age. The narratives of these men were also found to reflect other life course transitions such as the development of personal relationships, progression and promotion at work and the increasing role of social and family commitments. These other transitions were found to be important in situating individual changes in the experiences of embodiment and physicality. The thesis develops an account of male embodiment that highlights the importance of time and location in men's narratives of themselves. This situated-ness is discussed in relation to three important dimensions of male life: sport, food and work. By placing these dimensions within the context of time an important finding of this study emerged, namely the existence of an idealised body within individual biographical narratives. This ideal was often a point of reference as individuals negotiated the male life course and its many transitions. The conclusion of this thesis is that men's narratives of embodiment are constructed in relation to developments over the life course rather than by reference to simple discourses of masculinity.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The role of the body in men's biographical narratives: Sport, food and work.
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10103933
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