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Article

Civilized Muscles: Building a Powerful Body as a Vehicle for Social Status and Identity Formation

Department of Public Health, Aarhus University, 8000 Aarhus, Denmark
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(10), 287; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8100287
Received: 16 August 2019 / Revised: 1 October 2019 / Accepted: 9 October 2019 / Published: 13 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extreme Sports, Extreme Bodies)
This paper explored the relationship between having a muscular body and identity formation in young men. Theoretically, it was built on evolutionary psychology; empirically, it drew on the author’s research into young men’s use of anabolic-androgenic steroids in gym settings. The questions I addressed were the following: First, why does the building of a muscular body through weight and strength training appeal to young men who have not yet found their place in the societal hierarchy? Second, what identity-related consequences does it have for them, when the size and posture of their body changes? First, the paper outlined some important aspects of the civilizing process and evolutionary psychology in order to offer an explanation on how and why brute force has been marginalized in today’s society, while the strong body continues to appeal to us. Then followed an explanation of the concept of identity used in this context. Hereafter, it was examined how building a more muscular body influences the young men and their relationship with their surroundings. Next, an underlying alternative understanding of health that may influence young men’s decision to use anabolic steroids was discussed. The article concluded with some remarks on the body’s impact on identity in a time where a strong build no longer has any practical importance in our lives. View Full-Text
Keywords: gym culture; identity formation; anabolic androgenic steroids; social status; evolutionary psychology gym culture; identity formation; anabolic androgenic steroids; social status; evolutionary psychology
MDPI and ACS Style

Christiansen, A.V. Civilized Muscles: Building a Powerful Body as a Vehicle for Social Status and Identity Formation. Soc. Sci. 2019, 8, 287. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8100287

AMA Style

Christiansen AV. Civilized Muscles: Building a Powerful Body as a Vehicle for Social Status and Identity Formation. Social Sciences. 2019; 8(10):287. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8100287

Chicago/Turabian Style

Christiansen, Ask V. 2019. "Civilized Muscles: Building a Powerful Body as a Vehicle for Social Status and Identity Formation" Social Sciences 8, no. 10: 287. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8100287

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