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Philip G. White and James Gillett

This paper provides a critical decoding of advertisements in Flex, a popular bodybuilding magazine. The analysis focuses on the visual and narrative representation of the muscular male body and bodywork practices in advertisements promoting bodybuilding technologies. The images of the muscular body found in bodybuilding advertisements encourage masculine self-transformation through bodywork. Moreover, the taken-for-granted representation of the muscular body as natural and desirable is rooted in an ideology of gender difference, championing dominant meanings of masculinity through a literal embodiment of patriarchal power. The foregrounding of the muscular body as a cultural ideal offers conservative resistance to progressive change and alternative masculinities by valorizing a dominance-based notion of masculinity.

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James Gillett, Roy Cain and Dorothy Pawluch

Despite the growing interest in the therapeutic value of sport, limited attention has been devoted to understanding the meanings that individuals attribute to their use of physical activity as a complementary therapy. In our analysis, we draw on literature in the sociology of lay knowledge in order to better understand the use of physical activity as a health practice among people with HIV/AIDS. Our objective is to move beyond a biomedical focus, and explore the social, cultural, and political dimensions of using sport and physical activity to negotiate illness. The themes that emerge illustrate the diverse significance of physical activity as a complementary approach to health. Our analysis indicates that research in the sociology of sport can make an important contribution to understanding the therapeutics of physical activity and sport for people with health problems.