Reproducing “culture” as a barrier to individual and collective change: the case of rapid weight loss practices in combat sports

Wilbraham, Susan, Elliott, David and Miller, Paul K. (2019) Reproducing “culture” as a barrier to individual and collective change: the case of rapid weight loss practices in combat sports. In: British Psychological Society Division of Health Psychology Annual Conference 2019, 10-11 July 2019, Renaissance Manchester City Centre Hotel, Manchester, UK. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Objectives: Although extant research into Rapid Weight Loss (RWL) practices in combat sports has emphasised the dangerous and intermittently fatal outcomes of the practice, academic debate has remained largely confined to the sport sciences where the risk-reward equation in elite competition is often accorded analytic primacy. Given that nearly one million individuals in the UK alone are presently thought to regularly participate in combat sports, it is argued here that the matter transcends the sporting arena and emerges as a genuine public health concern. The primary research reported works to elucidate how the culture of RWL in amateur Muay Thai is understood, built and ultimately reproduced across the range of various actors who actually constitute this culture.

Design: A Grounded Theory approach was adopted, which has a strong history of building multi-perspective accounts of the interaction between individual action and localised organisational concerns.

Methods: Extended semi-structured interviews (mean duration = 50 mins) with N=7 participants variously involved in fighting, coaching and promotion were conducted and systematically analysed.

Results: Five interlocking Global Themes emerged. 1. RWL as an autotelic practice. 2. Muay Thai “culture” as a historical rhetoric. 3. RWL as a cultural commitment. 4. Practical risks of compliance and noncompliance with RWL normativity. 5. Accountability for outcomes of RWL.

Conclusions: It is contended that the findings take steps towards providing a broader understanding of the social psychological pressures on individuals involved in combat sports to sustain RWL practices, and the difficulties in effecting behavioural change at the collective, institutional level.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Departments: Applied Psychology and Social Studies
Health and Medical Sciences
Sports and Physical Activity
Additional Information: Poster ref: 3135.
Depositing User: Paul Miller
Date Deposited: 01 Jul 2019 13:20
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2019 06:10
URI: http://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/4952

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