John, Zoe

Start date:
October 2016
Research Topic:
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Dr Robin Smith and Professor Emma Renold
Supervising school:
School of Social Sciences,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

The PhD will explore the production and management of violent situations and identities, drawing from thinkers such as Erving Goffman and Randall Collins. Using the case of mixed martial arts fighting (MMA – a sport combined of practices such as kickboxing, Wrestling and Brazilian jiu jitsu) to elicit this topic, the study consists of three interrelating themes.

The first theme will focus on the strips of interaction in MMA’s ‘ethnographic places’ to elicit how ‘definitions of the situation’ relating to violence is organised and sustained. The second theme, the ‘fighting self’, takes interest in the strips of interaction through which being an MMA fighter are ‘done’, but also how they situate their self as violent, or not. The third aim draws upon the management and performance of the gendered sporting self, but also how the gendered body affects ‘doing’ fighter.

The research design is qualitative and ethnographic and will consist of several methods including participant observation, individual interviews, and analysis of online videos and comments. The sample will be gender balanced between men and women involved in MMA’s spaces, including coaches, competitive MMA fighters with varying skill status (amateur to professional), as well as non-competitive members of the MMA clubs.