Special Issue "Extreme Sports, Extreme Bodies"

A special issue of Social Sciences (ISSN 2076-0760).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 August 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Thomas Johansson
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Education, Communication and Learning, University of Gothenburg, Box 300, 405 30 Göteborg, Sweden
Interests: youth studies; family studies; body studies
Dr. Jesper Andreasson
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Sport Science, Faculty of Social Sciences, Linnaeus University, 391 82 Kalmar, 351 95 Växjö, Sweden
Interests: gender studies; the sociology of sport; gym/fitness culture; body studies

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Since around the turn of the twenty-first century, there has been a significant growth of sports that have been understood and conceptualized as somewhat different from so-called traditional, mainstream Western achievement sports. Consequently, a wide variety of alternative and extreme sports—including ultra-marathoning, sky-diving, ultimate fighting, bodybuilding, multisport and a mix of other activities—have come to receive increased attention from researchers, the media and commercial stakeholders. A steadily-growing number of committed practitioners have also contributed to strengthening the grassroots of these kinds of sports. Obviously, they all have their own distinctive histories, geographies, identities and development patterns. Some are recent phenomena, while others have cultural histories that echo back for centuries. At the same time, they can be said to share some commonalities concerning how they have gradually developed from somewhat subcultural, marginal, and pre-commercialised physical (youth) cultures, into spectacular extreme sports with great numbers of practitioners and large audiences in contemporary society. Over time, the labelling of the broadly used term alternative sports has also been successively refined, and the prefixes of these sports have variously been discussed as, for example, ‘extreme’, ‘action’, ‘lifestyle’, ‘new’, ‘postmodern’, etc.

This Special Issue is intended to be situated within a currently growing body of literature in which researchers have analyzed the development of a variety of extreme training trends and the impact different forms of exercise have on the individual’s body, identity, lifestyle and perception of his/her social surroundings. Through a compilation of articles, we will embrace a perspective in which the extreme (sport/body/lifestyle/identity) analytically is approached as a fluid, contextual and relational concept. The concept of the extreme will thus be utilized as an analytical window to understand different lifestyle choices and how people, through different means, are finding new ways to define (and possible exceed) themselves and approach their bodies. The concept of the extreme is, of course, also unconditionally tied to some sort of perception of the non-extreme or the common/ordinary/profane/normal, which can be found at the other end of an imagined continuum. It has been argued that, no matter how peripheral they are in the world of (mainstream) sport, extreme sports should also be understood as determined, defined and developed in relation to processes of commercialization and the development of an individualized contemporary enterprise culture. Thus, extreme sports have been situated within, for example, the historical conjuncture of Western individualism, global communication, entertainment industries and a growing global and young, most often white/Caucasian, population.

This call direct itself towards researchers interested in the contemporary transformation of the body, and of sports and activities challenging the limits of the human body and capacity to transform the body. We are looking for studies on different extreme sports, such as bodybuilding, mixed martial arts, ultra-marathoning, climbing and more. We are also interested in theoretical and historical articles in the field of body studies. Using a broad and heuristic definition of the extreme, we are interested in articles that address how people by different means transcend the limits of the body and challenge their minds and bodies in unforeseen ways.

Prof. Thomas Johansson
Dr. Jesper Andreasson
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Social Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • extreme sports
  • gender
  • identity
  • bodies
  • modernity
  • acceleration
  • digital culture

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
‘Sis Science’ and Fitness Doping: Ethnopharmacology, Gender and Risk
Soc. Sci. 2020, 9(4), 55; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci9040055 - 21 Apr 2020
Abstract
This article is part of a larger investigation looking into recent changes in the demographics of fitness doping and the possible consequences of such changes. Contesting the historical alliance between masculinity and fitness doping, the article focuses on women’s narratives and experiences of [...] Read more.
This article is part of a larger investigation looking into recent changes in the demographics of fitness doping and the possible consequences of such changes. Contesting the historical alliance between masculinity and fitness doping, the article focuses on women’s narratives and experiences of fitness doping in a male-dominated open online community called Flashback. The article builds upon a qualitative and netnographic approach to the research. Employing the lens of the potential emergence of a woman-based ethnopharmacological culture, this article investigates the ways in which women talk about and rationalise their use of performance and image enhancing drugs (PEIDs), their potency and potential gendered side-effects. The results show that although fitness doping can be largely understood in terms of hegemonic patterns, women have gained ground in the context of online fitness doping, heralding a changing doping demography and a movement towards a ‘sis science’ ethnopharmacology. Although critiqued by men, the context enables women to freely discuss harm reduction, risks and the potential potencies of various drugs, and to share knowledge that is relevant to female biology and discuss their own experiences, an activity that also makes visible the negotiation of new gender positions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extreme Sports, Extreme Bodies)
Open AccessArticle
Civilized Muscles: Building a Powerful Body as a Vehicle for Social Status and Identity Formation
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(10), 287; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8100287 - 13 Oct 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extreme Sports, Extreme Bodies)
Open AccessArticle
Bodybuilding and Fitness Doping in Transition. Historical Transformations and Contemporary Challenges
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(3), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8030080 - 04 Mar 2019
Abstract
This article describes and analyses the historical development of gym and fitness culture in general and doping use in this context in particular. Theoretically, the paper utilises the concept of subculture and explores how a subcultural response can be used analytically in relation [...] Read more.
This article describes and analyses the historical development of gym and fitness culture in general and doping use in this context in particular. Theoretically, the paper utilises the concept of subculture and explores how a subcultural response can be used analytically in relation to processes of cultural normalisation as well as marginalisation. The focus is on historical and symbolic negotiations that have occurred over time, between perceived expressions of extreme body cultures and sociocultural transformations in society—with a perspective on fitness doping in public discourse. Several distinct phases in the history of fitness doping are identified. First, there is an introductory phase in the mid-1950s, in which there is an optimism connected to modernity and thoughts about scientifically-engineered bodies. Secondly, in the 1960s and 70s, a distinct bodybuilding subculture is developed, cultivating previously unseen muscular male bodies. Thirdly, there is a critical phase in the 1980s and 90s, where drugs gradually become morally objectionable. The fourth phase, the fitness revolution, can be seen as a transformational phase in gym culture. The massive bodybuilding body is replaced with the well-defined and moderately muscular fitness body, but at the same time there are strong commercialised values which contribute to the development of a new doping market. Finally, it is possible to speculate on the development of a fifth phase, in which fitness doping is increasingly being filtered into mainstream gym and fitness culture, influencing the fitness doping demography. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extreme Sports, Extreme Bodies)
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