Austerity driving young men to be 'spornosexual': study

There has been an empirically observable rise in young men sharing images of their worked-out bodies on social media platforms.

London: Austerity measures undertaken as a result of economic crisis are driving more young men to become 'spornosexual' - striving for gym-fit, photo-perfect bodies to feel valuable in society, a new UK study has found.

The research from the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the UK suggests traditional routes to success and power have been eroded in 'Austerity Britain', causing young men to seek value through their bodies instead. Since the 2008 financial crash, there has been an empirically observable rise in young men sharing images of their worked-out bodies on social media platforms, researchers said.

"Austerity has eroded young men's traditional means of value-creation so they have become increasingly reliant on their bodies as a means of feeling valuable in society," said Jamie Hakim, a lecturer in media studies at UEA's School of
Film, Television and Media Studies. "In theoretical terms, so-called 'spornosexuality' is an embodied response to material changes brought about by
neoliberal austerity," Hakim said.

Hakim examined data from Sport England that showed a significant year-on-year increase in the amount of 16 to 25-year-old men attending the gym between 2006 and 2013. The market research company Nielsen found that sales of sports nutrition products that are used to strip body fat and build muscle increased by 40 per cent in Britain's 10 largest supermarkets - the second-largest growth in sales of any product sold in supermarkets in 2014, researchers said.

Hakim found that this demographic is both consuming and producing print and digital media that relates to body building. The print version of Men's Health magazine became the best-selling title in the British men's magazine market in
2009, selling nearly twice as many copies as its nearest competitor, the well-established GQ magazine. At the same time, the overall consumer magazine market was dramatically decreasing in circulation, while fitness-related hashtags on social media sites numbered in the multi-millions, researchers said.

The study shows that young men have become increasingly adept at building a social media brand based around their worked-out bodies and similarly savvy about marketing themselves through social media. "The rise of men going to the gym and sharing images of their worked-out bodies began around 2008, coinciding with the intensification of neoliberalism that occurred in response to
the 2008 economic crash and the following austerity measures. This is no coincidence," Hakim said.

"There is a correlation between the rise of young men fashioning muscular bodies and sharing them online, and the austerity measures experienced by their generation," he said. These economic tactics are widening inequality, especially for those born after 1980, with prohibitively high house prices, the loss of secure long-term contracts, tuition fees and other hurdles to economic security. The research was published in the Journal of Gender Studies.

( Source : PTI )
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