Fighting for Recognition: Identity, Masculinity, and the Act of Violence in Professional Wrestling

Overview


In Fighting for Recognition, R. Tyson Smith enters the world of independent professional wrestling, a community-based entertainment staged in community centers, high school gyms, and other modest venues. Like the big-name, televised pro wrestlers who originally inspired them, indie wrestlers engage in choreographed fights in character. Smith details the experiences, meanings, and motivations of the young men who wrestle as "Lethal" or "Southern Bad Boy," despite receiving little to no pay and risking the ...
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Fighting for Recognition: Identity, Masculinity, and the Act of Violence in Professional Wrestling

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Overview


In Fighting for Recognition, R. Tyson Smith enters the world of independent professional wrestling, a community-based entertainment staged in community centers, high school gyms, and other modest venues. Like the big-name, televised pro wrestlers who originally inspired them, indie wrestlers engage in choreographed fights in character. Smith details the experiences, meanings, and motivations of the young men who wrestle as "Lethal" or "Southern Bad Boy," despite receiving little to no pay and risking the possibility of serious and sometimes permanent injury. Exploring intertwined issues of gender, class, violence, and the body, he sheds new light on the changing sources of identity in a postindustrial society that increasingly features low wages, insecure employment, and fragmented social support. Smith uncovers the tensions between strength and vulnerability, pain and solidarity, and homophobia and homoeroticism that play out both backstage and in the ring as the wrestlers seek recognition from fellow performers and devoted fans.
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Editorial Reviews

Michael Kimmel

"To know only the flamboyantly hypermasculine spectacle of WWE is like believing that a Broadway musical represents America's love of theater. R. Tyson Smith's carefully rendered empathic ethnography reveals the oft-hidden world of everyday guys who do it all—the exacting choreographed routines, the grandiose costumes—because they love it. Yet underneath the artifice of fake combat lie real dangers and constant injury. These guys are, as Smith says, 'fighting for recognition,' yes, but they are also playing for real."
Randall Collins

"Behind the hypermacho performance of pro wrestling, R. Tyson Smith reveals a backstage where hard aggressive bodies are actually soft and yielding, hypersensitive as lovers so that they don't cripple each other. It is more akin to ballet than battle, except that all the effort goes into giving the opposite impression. This is one of the great ethnographies of the backstage of occupations, of athletes, of show business, of the bodily self—and of social performance itself."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822357223
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books
  • Publication date: 8/31/2014
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author


R. Tyson Smith is Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology at Brown University.
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