A Critical Marxist Analysis Of Figurational Theories Justification Of Pain And Injury Within Boxing

2740 words - 11 pages

A critical Marxist analysis of figurational theories justification of pain and injury within boxing.

Pain and injury has existed as a part of sports for thousands of years. However it is only recently that sociologist have begun to explore pain and injury from a sociological perspective. Most of the research that has been conducted in the field of pain and injury was primarily concerned with the bio-medical model and viewed pain and injury from a physiological perspective. Although little research exists from the social sciences this essay will aim to draw from the wealth and bio-medical research as wall as the limited sociological research to provide evidence that the civilising ...view middle of the document...

Despite the many sociological perspectives having differing perspective for the reasons on the phenomenon of pain and injury within sport, most are in agreement that athletes from most sporting arenas have been socialised into accepting pain and injury as a normalised process.
Coakley and Hughes (1998) have attempted to explain this normalisation in terms of ‘positive deviance’ to a strong work ethic (Marxist Theory) or strong identification to the dominant notions of masculinity (Feminist Theory). However substantial evidence more appropriately supports Elais (1978) figurational perspective as a number of noted sociologists (Nixon, 1992; Nixon, 1993; Nixon, 1994; Walk, 1997; Roderick, 1998 & Roderick et al, 2000) suggest that a network of figurations and relationships exists which places pressure upon the athletes to compete despite being injured.
Nixon (1992) defines this as the ‘risk-pain-injury paradox’ in which athletes continue to gain success in their sporting arena despite the obvious fact that there is clearly a diminished chance of success. Nixon further aims to define this normalisation of pain and injury as a ‘culture of risk’. Nixon conceptualises these figurations, which are explicit to Elais theory (1978) as ‘sportsnets’, which encapsulates a web of figurations, which may include the manager, the event organiser and the athlete themselves as well as spectator and medical staff. Nixon suggests that ‘sportsnets’ are geared towards achieving success and as such the pressure of the entire sportsnet is placed upon the athlete to play or compete despite injury.
However Roderick (1998) a figurational sociologists argues that whilst Nixon has identified that a complex network of interdependent relationships exists within sports and is pivotal to understanding pain and injury he fails however to observe the broader context in which pain and injury occur and highlights that to fully understand the true concept of ‘sportsnets’ we must adhere greater recognition to the dynamic processes associated with them such as the media and commercialisation and the effects that shifts in the balance of power can have on individuals personality structures and the socio-cultural norms that they adhere to. He also states that Nixon’s work has a tendency to be unidirectional and that a more adequate conceptualisation of relational bonds as highly interdependent should be recognised in future research.

Whilst the work of both Nixon and Roderick convincingly addresses the dynamic networks of social and interdependent relationships (sportsnets) and how the effects of these may alter individuals acceptance of the rules and norms that govern their acceptance of pain and injury and how shifts in the balance of coercive, economic and persuasive power also changes perceptions towards pain and injury. They fail to recognise the role of the civilising process particularly with regard to the deliberate infliction of pain and...

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