‘Not to judge by the looks but you can tell by the looks!’ Physical capital as symbolic capital in the individualization of health among young Norwegians
AffiliationUniversity of Chester; Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences; Western Norway University of Applied Sciences; Loughborough University; Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences; Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences
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AbstractIn this paper we explore how 15–16-year-old Norwegians experience social and cultural norms that shape their relationship with health and physical activity (PA) in a country where participation in PA is normative, in the sense that it is not only a widely shared practice but, in having significant cultural traction, is commonly understood as a ‘normal’ part of Norwegian daily life. The study draws upon qualitative data generated from 31 focus groups involving 148 10th graders (15–16-year-olds) in eight secondary schools in Norway. A key finding was that health was primarily viewed as synonymous with physical health and physical health as closely related to PA. A symbolic marker for physical condition – and, by extension, physical health – was physical appearance and ‘looks’ (in other words, physical attractiveness), revolving around gender normative bodily ‘shape’. In this vein, the youngsters tended towards individualistic views of health – seeing health as a responsibility that lay largely in their hands. We argue that the significance of growing up and living in a wealthy, social democratic nation-state, with high living standards and high social and cultural expectations, can have profound implications for youngsters’ perceptions of health and PA, the impact of neoliberalism notwithstanding.
CitationRøset, L., Green, K., Cale, L., Sigurjónsson, T., Tjomsland, H., & Thurston, M. (2022). ‘Not to judge by the looks but you can tell by the looks!’ Physical capital as symbolic capital in the individualization of health among young Norwegians. Sport, Education and Society, vol(issue), pages. https://doi.org/10.1080/13573322.2022.2159361
PublisherTaylor and Francis
JournalSport, Education and Society
DescriptionThis is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Sport, Education and Society on 13/12/2022, available online: https://doi.org/10.1080/13573322.2022.2159361 .
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/