'Working out' identity: distance runners and the management of disrupted identity

Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson, John Hockey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Citations (SciVal)


This article contributes fresh perspectives to the empirical literature on the sociology of the body, and of leisure and identity, by analysing the impact of long-term injury on the identities of two amateur but serious middle/long-distance runners. Employing a symbolic interactionist framework, and utilising data derived from a collaborative autoethnographic project, it explores the role of 'identity work' in providing continuity of identity during the liminality of long-term injury and rehabilitation, which poses a fundamental challenge to athletic identity. Specifically, the analysis applies Snow and Anderson's (1995) and Perinbanayagam's (2000) theoretical conceptualisations in order to examine the various forms of identity work undertaken by the injured participants, along the dimensions of materialistic, associative and vocabularic identifications. Such identity work was found to be crucial in sustaining a credible sporting identity in the face of disruption to the running self, and in generating momentum towards the goal of restitution to full running fitness and re-engagement with a cherished form of leisure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-398
Number of pages18
JournalLeisure Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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