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Brother, Can You Spare a Seat? Developing Recipes of Knowledge in the Ticket Scalping Subculture

Michael Atkinson

Although deviance on and off the field have become popular topics of sociological investigation, sociologists have not studied the criminal or otherwise “deviant” roles ticket scalpers play in the cultural spectacle that is professional sport. In many ways, ticket scalpers have become a mainstay part of the backdrop upon which fans experience sporting events. As a first step in developing a sociological portrait of the social processes involved in ticket scalping, it is essential to examine how scalping is accomplished and experienced by its practitioners. This paper is intended to introduce sociologists of sport to die subculture of ticket scalpers by attending to the in-group perspectives and understandings ticket scalpers share toward their practices. Specifically, using ethnographic data collected on 54 ticket scalpers in a central Canadian city, I address how scalpers develop recipes of knowledge for their trade and how ticket scalping is accomplished as a social practice.

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The Terrier [Men]

Michael Atkinson

‘Terrier work’ is an historical and deeply significant rural practice in the United Kingdom, in which small or medium size terriers are employed to track, capture and kill foxes in the larger context of an organized foxhunt. Between 2007-2009, I spent time following a small group of ‘terrier men’ and their dogs around the East Midlands countryside as part of an ethnographic project on the use of dogs in rural (mainly fox) hunting cultures. A small faction of these terrier men living in England and Wales participate in a quasi-legal hunting subculture. In this paper, and drawing heavily upon animal standpoint theory (Best, 2013), I shift analytic focus in human-nonhuman animal studies away from human constructions/ uses/ meanings of animals in animal ‘blood sports’ (Gillett & Gilbert, 2013), and consider a fox hunting case study from the positions and subjectivities of the animals involved. This reading calls sociologists of sport and physical culture to reconsider how human-animal sports, analyzed from marginalized or silenced standpoints, direct attention to the interplay between power, instincts, and desires involved when species interactively meet.

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Playing with Fire: Masculinity, Health, and Sports Supplements

Michael Atkinson

Canadian men flock to gyms to enlarge, reshape, and sculpt their bodies. Fitness centers, health-food stores, muscle magazines, and Internet sites profit by aggressively selling “sports supplements” to a wide range of exercising men. Once associated with only the hardcore factions of male bodybuilders (Klein, 1995), designer protein powders, creatine products, energy bars, ephedrine, amino acids, diuretics, and growth hormones such as androstenedione are generically marketed to men as health and lifestyle-improving aids. This paper explores how a select group of Canadian men connect the consumption of sports supplements to the pursuit of “established” masculinity. I collected ethnographic data from 57 recreational athletes in Canada and interpreted the data through the lens of figurational sociology. Analytic attention is thus given to how contemporary discourses and practices of supplementation are underscored by middle-class understandings of masculine bodies in a time of perceived “gender crisis” in Canada.

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Physical Cultural Studies [Redux]

Michael Atkinson

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Fifty Million Viewers Can’t Be Wrong: Professional Wrestling, Sports-Entertainment, and Mimesis

Michael Atkinson

While largely discounted as a genuine sport by most, professional wrestling has evolved from a minor source of “entertainment” to a culturally powerful multi-media complex. Attracting audiences in abundance of fifty million viewers on a weekly basis, professional wrestling has become the number one rated “sports-entertainment” program on television. In doing so, professional wrestling broadcasts challenge long-standing cultural constructions of sport in North America, while hyperbolising and unapologetically exploiting that which is highly entertaining about professional sports contests. Specifically, professional wrestling's mandate is to excite audiences via contrived and hyper-violent athletic competition. Drawing on Elias' (1978, 1983, 1994, 1996) and other process-sociologists' (Dunning, 1999; Maguire, 1999; Sheard, 1999) understanding of mimesis, it is argued here that professional wrestling derives the bulk of its cultural appeal from the ways in which the staged violence is presented as both “sporting” and “exciting” to audiences.

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Editorial

Pirkko Markula and Michael Atkinson

Although the Editors of SSJ Usually Work Quietly Behind the Scene to Give Voice to the Contributing Authors, with the Change of Editorship We Have Decided to Address the Readership More Openly through a Brief Editorial. In This Editorial, Pirkko Markula, the Past Editor of SSJ, Would like to Introduce a New Series of Articles on the State of the Sociology of Sport Initiated during Her Time as the Editor. Michael Atkinson Will Then Share His Thoughts about Sociology of Sport and Introduce His New Editorial Team.