|dc.description.abstract||Very little detailed analysis of bodybuilders has been conducted (Klein, 1986). Perhaps because of the lack of studies on bodybuilders, or perhaps as a reflection of the nature of the sub-culture, it appears that bodybuilders cannot easily be packaged into one particular line of thinking or academic discipline. The studies that have been undertaken on these athletes tend to examine issues such as objectification of the body, posing, harsh dieting practices and the use of drugs, including anabolic steroids. By examining these facets of bodybuilding in isolation these studies tend to judge bodybuilders in a negative way, rather than focussing on the bodybuilding lifestyle as a whole in order to more fully understand all the aspects of the sport and the reasons behind some of the norms and values.
This thesis is an ethnographic-style account of elite level bodybuilders in New Zealand and is an attempt to bridge some of the gaps in the literature by emphasising how normal both males and females participating in the sport, at the elite level, can be. The first chapter is the literature review which outlines the existing literature on the body, bodybuilders and drug use. The literature chapter details the history of bodybuilding and the development of a bodybuilding subculture which was once viewed as deviant, but presently enjoys some degree of legitimacy and, perhaps, respectability among the general population. This chapter also details some of the health issues related to bodybuilders. Although this may include diet, a large segment relates specifically to drug use.
Given the significance of drug use in bodybuilders' lives, a brief history of anabolic steroid use is included and shows that bodybuilders and power lifters were the first athletes to use these drugs. How anabolic steroids work, in terms of physical and psychological effects on the individual, and the possibility of healthy steroid use will be examined within the context of increasing medical intervention in the general population.
In order to integrate the possibility of healthy steroid use with the values and norms associated with the bodybuilding sub-culture, the literature review will also outline the concepts of a serious leisure career and locus of control. These are the tools which will be used in the analysis sections to both explain and understand some of the issues in relation to diet and drug use in the lives of elite level bodybuilders.
The second chapter details the methodology used to gather the data. The reasons why qualitative, semi-structured interviews were thought to be most appropriate, the selection of respondents to be interviewed and the places chosen to observe bodybuilders will be discussed. The ethical considerations will be described because of the potentially illicit nature of some of the data.
Chapters three and four together form the analysis section. Chapter three focuses on the bodybuilding sub-culture and the important values of health and individualism associated with it. It details the gym hierarchy and illustrates, firstly, how novice bodybuilders must get in with the higher ranked athletes, and then use their knowledge to successfully compete and gain status themselves. The role of internal attributions related to the athlete's experience in the hierarchy is also examined in relation to diet and drug practices.
Chapter four details how important the lifestyle of bodybuilding is to the athletes in this study in relation to a theoretical bodybuilding career path. The issues of internal control and individualism which are so important in the bodybuilding sub-culture appear to be challenged as the athlete moves up the gym hierarchy. These challenges, along with the athletes' coping strategies, are described.
Chapter five discusses the two analysis chapters and attempts to integrate the findings of this study with the literature review and outlines the limitations and possibilities for future research.||en