The making of body differences: physical activity, gender, and age in institutional addiction treatment

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Elements of sports and physical activity are common in institutional addiction treatment, in both Sweden and other European countries. These activities can be understood as activities of everyday life that promote health and well-being in institutional life. At the same time, physical activity is closely interwoven with a Western culture in which a healthy and fit body is an important social marker. The body is used to differentiate among bodies and attribute different values to them. The aim of this article is to explore how elements of physical activity supports ideas about gender, age and body in institutional addiction treatment. The analysis is based on qualitative interviews with staff from three in-patient institutions. Using the concepts of functionality, body normativity and the normate, the analysis shows how staff reason in various ways when speaking about different client groups in relation to physical activity. Physical activities are described as problematic for women as the staff connect them with a psychological dysfunctionality which is assumed to be physically limiting. For younger men, who embody normativity, the elements are understood as unproblematic. Physical activities becomes disciplinary for these men since their bodies are understood as always capable of being physically active. Older men are described as partly being prevented from participating because of age and physical illnesses, but such elements are nevertheless seen as important to them.
Sidor (från-till)249-261
TidskriftNordic Social Work Research
Tidigt onlinedatum2017
StatusPublished - 2018 okt. 18

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