Austerity measures undertaken as a result of economic crisis are driving more young men to become ‘spornosexual’ – striving for gym-fit, photo-perfect bodies to feel valuable in society, a new UK study has found.
Since the 2008 financial crash, there has been an empirically observable rise in young men sharing images of their worked-out bodies on social media platforms, researchers said.
“Austerity has eroded young men’s traditional means of value-creation so they have become increasingly reliant on their bodies as a means of feeling valuable in society,” said Jamie Hakim, a lecturer in media studies at UEA’s School of Film, Television and Media Studies.
“In theoretical terms, so-called ‘spornosexuality’ is an embodied response to material changes brought about by neoliberal austerity,” Hakim said.
Hakim examined data from Sport England that showed a significant year-on-year increase in the amount of 16 to 25-year-old men attending the gym between 2006 and 2013.
The study shows that young men have become increasingly adept at building a social media brand based around their worked-out bodies and similarly savvy about marketing themselves through social media.
“The rise of men going to the gym and sharing images of their worked-out bodies began around 2008, coinciding with the intensification of neo-liberalism that occurred in response to the 2008 economic crash and the following austerity measures.
This is no coincidence,” Hakim said. The research was published in the Journal of Gender Studies.