Ageing and Embodied Masculinities in Physical Activity Settings: From Flesh to Theory and Back Again

  • Andrew C. Sparkes
Part of the Global Culture and Sport Series book series (GCS)


Ageing, like masculinity, does not mean the same thing to all men. It varies in how it is understood, experienced and lived out in daily practices. This is particularly so when the body is foregrounded in the places where sports and physical activities take place. Here, making sense of age is a gendered process. To illustrate this, I draw upon selected age-autobiographical moments (Gullette, 2003) to explore my experiences of the gym as a particular place in which I simultaneously do age-specific gender and gendered-age. My intention is to add to the limited literature on men’s experiences as embodied, ageing subjects and to illustrate some of the affective interconnectivities between them. According to Eman (2012) and Shirani (2013), this is an important task because the social processes of gender include ageing, and their interplay generates specific meanings about masculinity and ‘growing old’ or ‘ageing well’ that can represent challenges to identity in later life.


Aging Study Bench Press Hegemonic Masculinity Ageing Body Communicative Body 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Blackman L (2008) The Body. Oxford: Berg.Google Scholar
  2. Deleuze G and Guattari, F (1987) A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
  3. Eman J (2012) The role of sport in making sense of growing old. Journal of Aging Studies 26: 467–475.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Frank A (2010). Letting Stories Breathe: A Socio- Narratology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Frank A (2013) The Wounded Storyteller (2nd edition). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  6. Gubrium J and Holstein J (2003) The everyday visibility of the ageing body. In: C Faircloth (ed) Ageing Bodies. New York: Altamira Press, pp. 205–227.Google Scholar
  7. Gullette M (2003) From life storytelling to age autobiography. Journal of Aging Studies 17: 101–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Lamb S (2014) Permanent personhood and meaningful decline? toward a critical anthropology of successful aging. Journal of Aging Studies 29: 41–52.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Laz C (2003) Age embodied. Journal of Aging Studies 17: 503–519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Mol A and Law J (2004) Embodied action, enacted bodies: the example of hypoglycaemia. Body and Society 10: 43–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Phoenix C and Sparkes A (2007) Sporting bodies, ageing, narrative mapping and young team athletes: an analysis of possible selves. Sport, Education and Society 12: 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Phoenix C and Sparkes A (2008) Athletic bodies and aging in context: the narrative construction of experienced and anticipated selves in time. Journal of Aging Studies 22: 211–221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Phoenix C and Sparkes A (2009) Being Fred: big stories, small stories and the accomplishment of a positive ageing identity. Qualitative Research 9: 219–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Shirani F (2013) The spectre of the wheezy Dad: masculinity, fatherhood and ageing. Sociology 47, 1104–1119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Sparkes A (2009) Ethnography and the senses: challenges and possibilities. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health 1: 21–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Sparkes A (2010) Performing the ageing body and the importance of place: some brief autoethnographic moments. In: B Humberstone (ed) ‘When I am old …’ Third Age and Leisure Research: Principles and Practice. Eastbourne, UK: Leisure Studies Association, pp. 21–32.Google Scholar
  17. Sparkes A (2012) Fathers and sons: in bits and pieces. Qualitative Inquiry 18: 167–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Twigg J (2004) The body, gender, and age: feminist insights in social gerontology. Journal of Aging Studies 18: 59–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Wellard I (2009) Sport, Masculinities and the Body. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  20. Wellard I (2014) Sport, Fun and Enjoyment. London: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Andrew C. Sparkes 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew C. Sparkes

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations