Body management and rationalization in running fitness: a qualitative study based on Marathon runners

WANG Jian1,2

(1.Nanjing University, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Nanjing, China 210023)
(2.Center of Mental Health, Changzhou Institute of Technology, Changzhou, China 213032)

【Abstract】 In recent years, as a fitness sport widely participated by contemporary urban residents, the marathon contains the characteristics of body management, consumer culture, and rational entertainment. By reviewing the background and related studies of the marathon as a fitness lifestyle, combining Foucault’s theory of body discipline, Baudrillard’s theory of consumer society and Ritzer’s view of the McDonaldization of society, this paper uses sequential interview in qualitative research to conduct a semi-structured in-depth interview among marathoners. According to the interview data, it is concluded that the contemporary urban marathon has become a way for runners to reshape the biological body, manage the symbolic body, practice consumptive body, and construct a self-identifying body. At the same time, compared with other fitness exercises, with the help of mobile technology and intelligent equipment, the principles of the McDonaldization of society gradually dominate more and more aspects and fields of the marathon. Marathon shows four characteristics: high efficiency, calculable, predictable and controllable. Running fitness has become a part of the life of contemporary Chinese urban residents, especially middle-class runners.

【Keywords】 body; fitness; marathon; consumption; identity;


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    [1]. ① According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics of China, the disposable income of Chinese urban residents in 2017 was CNY 36,396. In order to highlight the typicality of the income, the average annual income of runners selected in this study was higher than CNY 60,000.


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This Article



Vol 39, No. 12, Pages 34-42

December 2019


Article Outline


  • 1 Marathon fitness: background and research
  • 2 Research design
  • 3 The “reproduction” of the body: body management of marathon runners
  • 4 McDonaldization of running: the rational connotation of urban marathon
  • 5 Conclusion
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