Conformers, contesters, creators: vignettes of asthma identities and sporting embodiment

Owton, Helen and Allen-Collinson, Jacquelyn (2016). Conformers, contesters, creators: vignettes of asthma identities and sporting embodiment. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 51(6) pp. 699–714.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1012690214548494

Abstract

Through a phenomenologically-inspired approach, the purpose of this article is to examine the different ways in which sportspeople experience asthma, a condition that affects 5.4 million people in the UK. To date, sociological phenomenology has been under-utilised both in relation to health and illness experiences and vis-à-vis sporting embodiment. Drawing on in-depth interview data from non-elite sportspeople (n = 14), all of whom had been diagnosed with asthma, ranging in degree of severity, here we explore asthma sporting embodiment via a threefold asthma identity typology. The findings are communicated through vignettes, assembled from participants’ accounts, in order to highlight the multifaceted and multilayered ‘voices’ of sportspeople with asthma. Transforming data in this way can, we argue, resonate with others – both those with asthma and those without – to give a ‘feel’ for asthma experiences and sporting embodiment. This form of typology may be useful as a heuristic framework to assist healthcare and sports professionals in understanding asthma experiences as lived in everyday life, and potentially in developing more appropriate and effective care regimes for sportspeople in order to improve the quality of that everyday life.

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