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"Normally a cock”: Embodiment, gender and violence in Mixed Martial Arts

John, Zoe 2022. "Normally a cock”: Embodiment, gender and violence in Mixed Martial Arts. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis is an ethnography of embodiment, violence and gender which draws from mixed martial arts (MMA) as a case for analysis. Fieldwork took place in two ethnographic sites, Fight or Flight MMA club and Blood Bath Royal (BBR) fighting events, between May and September 2018, and includes observational and interview data, as well as a heavily reflexive ethnographic component. These reflexive elements stem from my flexible researcher role, where my own participation in Fight or Flight MMA classes provided an insight limited by previous research on these topics: that is, of women as researcher and as participant in MMA. The analysis takes the reader through experiences of fieldwork, which at first intended to explore the frame (Goffman 1974) of MMA fighting and the interpretations of violence within the sport. That is still part of the analysis, where MMA is presented in ways a “controlled violence”, embodied in intersubjective (Crossley 2004b; Crossley 2005) ways. As the analysis continues however, a critical and gendered account of violence and embodiment is presented, where women’s bodies experienced differential treatment in both training and fighting; ignored, avoided, or sexualised. The gendering possibilities of violent action are then explored, where the embodying of skills was reiterated through toxic gendered norms, operating as ‘just’ humour (Kelly 1987) instead of more interpersonal forms of violence. Drawing from disciplines of feminist research and perspective (e.g., Butler 2004; Butler 2011) and the sociology of everyday life (Goffman 1966; Goffman 1974), this thesis brings focus to how these situated understandings of action are observed but also managed. My experiences in the field, which including being subject to sexual hustling (Gurney 1985) and harassment, required a re-viewing of my initial interests of violence and embodiment in the research. As a result, this thesis is highly reflexive, and I present these discussions across the chapters.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 13 July 2022
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2023 02:20

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