Boosting Bodily Capital: Maintaining Masculinity, Aesthetic Pleasure and Instrumental Utility Through the Consumption of Steroids

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Abstract

Anabolic-androgenic steroid consumption is considered a significant public health issue in a number of countries but particularly in the northeast of England. Informed by ongoing ethnographic work on steroid use, this paper aims to explore two particular dimensions of bodily capital within the overarching context of hyper-masculinity. Towards this end we focus on aesthetic pleasure as the ‘boosted’ body becomes a site of contemporary consumption before taking a look at the instrumental utility derived from a sufficiently primed and tuned body. Accordingly, and with a view towards the changing currency of bodily capital, we explore the contemporary importance attached to both attaining and maintaining both elements of a ‘boosted’ bodily capital. The significant role steroids play in facilitating this is then discussed; yet rather than locating its consumption in the realm of ‘deviancy’, we view it as a means of hyper-conforming to neoliberalism’s cultural norms and values. By drawing upon a range of perspectives, we hope to offer up new insights into the demand for steroids apropos the pursuit for an aesthetically pleasing and instrumentally effective body.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Consumer Culture
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2019

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