Civilized muscles: Building a powerful body as a vehicle for social status and identity formation

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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.

TidsskriftSocial Sciences
StatusUdgivet - 1 okt. 2019

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