‘What Is Your Worth’: An Ethnographic Study of Boxing


In 2002, I commenced a study which explored the ways in which participation in boxing could lead to the development of capital. There were two recent sociological studies which had examined boxing, both of which were carried out in the United States. I wanted to examine boxing in the north-east of England and gain an appreciation of and an understanding of the world of the boxers. My study was in the same tradition as were the previous studies, but it was in a very different location and was more explicit in examining the ways in which boxing could interact in other areas of young boxers' lives. This case study provides an account of one aspect of a larger study and, as such, focuses on the involvement of young men in amateur boxing, rather than professional boxing. The methods used to collect data were interviews and observation. This account examines; the thinking behind the design of the study, and the ways in which theoretical issues are related to the findings. The practicalities of ethnography are also considered and the ways in which particular roles need to be selected and negotiated. Particular attention is given to a consideration to the involvement of the researcher in the setting and how this could influence the day-to-day activities of the situation being investigated (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Boxer's at work.
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