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Title: Competitive identity and an ageing body : a social psychological study of West Australian Masters Sports participants
Author: Palmer, Pauline Sheila.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3465 9987
Awarding Body: Chelsea School, University of Brighton,
Current Institution: University of Brighton
Date of Award: 2008
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This social-psychological study sought to identify and illuminate the conceptualisation and meaning of Masters sport participation and competition to a group of 43 older West Australian athletes (ages 50-94). Through a rigorous analytical interpretation of personal narratives, the contradiction between athletic identity and an ageing body was investigated. A paradox remains between societal expectation of the elderly to reduce physical activity, and the increasing numbers who take part in demanding competitive sport normally enjoyed by younger people. In an attempt to defy natural biological ageing and negative stereotypes in Western society, Masters provide examples of self-determined motivation to repeatedly push their ageing bodies to the limit with little reward or recognition. As performance technique is clearly no longer sufficient to satisfy athletes' needs, the need to achieve is manifested through the achievement of personal bests, or rewarded by sincere effort. Masters are proactive in facilitating behavioural change, thus influencing levels of self-esteem and thereby continued commitment. Benefits of the complex interaction between personal and environmental factors produce identifiable links to social enhancement, fitness and self-fulfilment that contribute to quality of life for older individuals. But, undoubtedly, the essence of Masters sport to this ageing group is the significant importance of maintaining choice, freedom, health and identity during later life stages that is manifested through denial. This integral component further contributes to a positive self projection, and together with self-expression and self-definition, is presented to outsiders as evidence of active and healthy ageing. The Masters' rhetoric is rehearsed and repeated at will in much the same manner as a learned mantra, but often viewed by other older and more sedentary individuals as idiosyncratic. Social scientists have primarily focused research on the sedentary old, addressing barriers against physical activity while ignoring positive and transferable outcomes of an active lifestyle within a community club base. While financial incentives clearly drive the need for lifestyle change in the general population, it is those at the extreme of active-ageing that require greater acknowledgement as effective role models of healthy ageing. Through an interpretive post-positivistic paradigm this inquiry gave voice to a group of older individuals and deliberated upon the complex interplay between ageing and an externally presented self-ideal of health and fitness.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available