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Title: Running : anatomy of a middle-class obsession
Author: Baxter, Neil Thomas
ISNI:       0000 0004 9357 9639
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis explores recreational running as a social practice using the tools of Bourdeusian field analysis. Combining qualitative and quantitative methods, it maps and describes the social terrain of running, and explores the ways in which forms of running – and running per se – can be understood as symbolically potent performances of social position. The research methods include a large-scale survey of runners (n=2,637) and a series of in-depth interviews with runners (n=21). Running is also placed in its broader context as one of a wide range of forms of active leisure through a secondary analysis of data collected by Sport England. This study deploys Bourdieusian tools in a new way, using them to explode the ostensibly monolithic category of ‘running’ into its constituent parts, revealing a cosmos of socially distinctive (and even antagonistic) forms of running within it - a field of positions associated with distinctive cultural meanings and values. In mapping and analysing social and cultural differences within running, this study paints a new, more nuanced and complete picture of running culture as a dynamic, uneven and contested space through which social inequalities are reinforced and even justified. Key findings centre on the roles of class and gender in shaping running engagement through the mediation of access to capital and variations in habitus relating to tastes around the ‘healthy lifestyle’, body-shape and fitness ideals, ‘authenticity’ seeking, perceptions of competence, competition and ‘mental toughness’.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: GV Recreation Leisure ; HM Sociology