Does Your Workout Say Something About Your Social Class?

Sociologist Carl Stemple argues that upper middle class Americans avoid "excessive displays of strength," viewing the bodybuilder look as vulgar overcompensation for wounded manhood.

What's the Latest?


Could different exercise routines mirror social differences like political party affiliation or level of education? When author Daniel Duane began seriously lifting weights at the age of 40, his friends and even his wife struggled to understand his decision. It seems that building muscle had social implications which Duane didn't bargain for. Sociologist Carl Stemple, writing in the International Review for the Sociology of Sport, "argues that upper middle class Americans avoid 'excessive displays of strength,' viewing the bodybuilder look as vulgar overcompensation for wounded manhood." 

What's the Big Idea?

Duane began lifting because he learned that endurance sports like jogging and swimming don't keep bones from deteriorating in old age the way building muscle mass does. But social lines became obstacles in Duane's quest to achieve his new view of health. "The so-called dominant classes, Stempel writes—especially those like [Duane's] friends and [Duane himself], richer in fancy degrees than in actual dollars—tend to express dominance through strenuous aerobic sports that display moral character, self-control, and self-development, rather than physical dominance." In the end, Duane abandoned weight lifting, suggesting that preserving social bonds meant more to him than individual achievement.

Read more at the Pacific Standard

Photo credit: Shutterstock

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

What’s behind our appetite for self-destruction?

Is it "perverseness," the "death drive," or something else?

Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Each new year, people vow to put an end to self-destructive habits like smoking, overeating or overspending.

Keep reading Show less

Physicists puzzled by strange numbers that could explain reality

Eight-dimensional octonions may hold the clues to solve fundamental mysteries.

Surprising Science
  • Physicists discover complex numbers called octonions that work in 8 dimensions.
  • The numbers have been found linked to fundamental forces of reality.
  • Understanding octonions can lead to a new model of physics.
Keep reading Show less

Douglas Rushkoff – It’s not the technology’s fault

It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.

Think Again Podcasts
  • It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
  • Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
Keep reading Show less