Insta-muscle: examining online and offline IPED trade and masculine body culture

Gibbs, Nicholas Russell (2021) Insta-muscle: examining online and offline IPED trade and masculine body culture. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Empirical evidence suggests that we are witnessing a rise in the use of image and performance enhancing drugs both nationally and internationally (Sagoe et al., 2014; Mullen et al., 2020) which, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, shows little sign of halting. Set against this context, this thesis interrogates the consumption and supply of IPEDs within the post-industrial city of Stoke-on-Trent, as well as the digitised spaces of the social media sites (SNS) Facebook and Instagram. Underpinned by a twelve-month ‘connective’ ethnography, the work employs cutting-edge criminological theory to identify Stoke’s health and fitness industry as a site of deviant leisure (Smith and Raymen, 2018). Through data precured from enactive fieldwork in two gyms, semi-structured interviews, and digital ethnographic observations, it presents a multi-faceted account of IPED consumption, taking in a psychoanalytic exploration of bodily desire, elements of instrumental and hyper-conformist use, the pleasures of lifestyle enhancement, and the role of SNS as ‘dopogenic environments’ (Backhouse et al., 2018).

Building upon this, the thesis then offers a comprehensive account of IPED supply in the city. First identifying underground laboratories (UGLs) as the most common producers of IPEDs in the UK, the work paints a picture of the local ‘partial’ market (Fincoeur et al., 2015). Within this, the sanctity of bodily and cultural capital is discussed alongside the barriers that preclude external actors from accessing the supply chain. However, the research also identifies a concerted move towards commercialisation and digitisation, wherein the market now caters for less culturally embedded users and has in some respects moved online (Hall and Antonopoulos, 2016). The impact of these shifts is made clear in a discussion of the IPED market on both Facebook and Instagram.

Ultimately, the research offers an original empirical and theoretical account of the image and performance enhancing drugs market. The findings bring us closer to a more theoretically nuanced account of IPED consumption, as well as building on the burgeoning body of work on the marketplace for these substances. This will be of use to academics, practitioners and policymakers.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: image and performance enhancing drugs, gym culture, drugs market, deviant leisure, Stoke-on-Trent
Subjects: L900 Others in Social studies
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Social Sciences
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 14 Apr 2022 07:50
Last Modified: 14 Apr 2022 08:00

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