Special Issue "Extreme Sports, Extreme Bodies"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 September 2019

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Thomas Johansson

Department of Education, Communication and Learning, University of Gothenburg, Box 300, 405 30 Göteborg, Sweden
Website | E-Mail
Interests: youth studies; family studies; body studies
Guest Editor
Dr. Jesper Andreasson

Department of Sport Science, Faculty of Social Sciences, Linnaeus University, 391 82 Kalmar, 351 95 Växjö, Sweden
Website | E-Mail
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 Charges (APCs) of 350 CHF (Swiss Francs) per published paper are partially funded by institutions through Knowledge Unlatched for a limited number of papers per year. Please contact the editorial office before submission to check whether KU waivers, or discounts are still available. 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.


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

Published Papers (1 paper)

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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
Received: 16 January 2019 / Revised: 25 February 2019 / Accepted: 27 February 2019 / Published: 4 March 2019
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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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