• The drive for the 'perfect body': A Bourdieun analysis of the body image perceptions and health behaviours among male weight trainers

      Gill, Luke (University of Chester, 2013-10-04)
      Whilst there exists a small body of literature that has examined male weight-trainers body image perceptions and health behaviours, very few have employed a sociological perspective or a qualitative research approach. The central objective of this thesis, therefore, is to investigate, using Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus, field and capital, the body image perceptions and health behaviours among male weight-trainers. To do this, semi-structured interviews were conducted with eleven male weight-trainers who attended weight-training gyms in the North-West of England. The results indicate that male weight-trainers hold specific body image habituses. These perceptions were athleticism, leanness and muscularity. To all weight-trainers in this study, these body image perceptions encompassed a ‘perfect body’. The health behaviours of weight-trainers revealed that their diets are structured and organised. There was evidence to suggest that weight-trainers consume particular foods, including a diverse source of protein foods, all of which were to complement their weight-training goals. Supplementation was widespread among weight-trainers. However, few health concerns were considered when using them. The results of this study indicate that supplementation use was guided on one principle, trial and error. All in all, the study provides evidence to suggest that the social fields (e.g. weight-training gyms) that weight-trainers engage in help to construct and develop their body image perceptions and health behaviours. Those that possessed a physique that represented the dominant habitus, were inclined to possess high levels of cultural capital, in this case, trusted and valued knowledge regarding weight-training, nutrition and supplementation.