Post-industrial masculinities and gym culture: Graft, craft, and fraternity

Nicholas Gibbs*, Mike Salinas, Luke Turnock

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


This article theorizes a link between contemporary masculinity in post-industrial spaces and ‘hardcore’ gym culture. Over the last three decades the health and fitness industry has grown exponentially, with bodily modification and the proliferation of gymnasia, health supplements and wearable fitness trackers now a dominant means by which many construct their identities. Simultaneously, the onset of wholesale neoliberalism, which has caused large-scale de-industrialization and the global outsourcing of labor, has resulted in a macro-economic shift from production to consumption in the West. Set against this backdrop, this article draws upon two ethnographic studies in ‘hardcore’ gyms to examine the significance of bodywork in the lives of men in two working-class, post-industrial locales in England. First, gym work is conceptualized as a form of both graft and craft within our samples, and the role of the male body as a post-industrial project is considered. Following this, the gym is presented as a site of fraternity which, following the loss of collectivizing industry in both areas, allows men to bond over a shared endeavor and build genuine kinship. Ultimately, we conclude that the gym is a space of production within consumption, furnishing our sample with a means of performing their embodied masculinity and repurposing formative notions of graft, craft, and fraternity in a new adaptive space.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-236
Number of pages17
JournalThe British Journal of Sociology
Issue number1
Early online date30 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


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