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Gender, Identity and the Body

We aim to:

  • critically explore and understand socio-cultural issues associated with Sport, Exercise and Health;
  • support research that is interdisciplinary, theoretically sound and informed in empirical evidence;
  • increase the appreciation of high quality socio-cultural research in relation to key areas identified;
  • support and carry out research that generates local/regional/global impact;
  • actively seek out external research funding opportunities.

Key research interests: corporeal and sporting/exercise identities, national identity, migrant identities, post-colonial cultural identities, body dysmorphic disorders and sexuality.


Dr Gyozo Molnar – is currently working on a range of Fiji rugby migration related research projects with Dr Yoko Kanemasu (The University of The South Pacific). His current publications and research revolve around migration, globalization, national identity, gender relations and drive for muscularity. He is co-editor (with Prof. Alan Bairner) of The Politics of The Olympics (2010, Routledge), co-writer (with Dr John Kelly) of the Sport, Exercise and Social Theory: An Introduction (2012, Routledge), co-editor (with Dr Laura Purdy) of the Ethnographies in Sport and Exercise Research (2015, Routledge) and co-editor (with Drs Sara Amin and Yoko Kanemasu) of Women, Sport and Exercise in the Asia-Pacific Region: Domination-Resistance-Accommodation (2018, Routledge).


Dr Rachael Bullingham – has recently completed her PhD in homophobia in women’s sport from the University of Winchester. The project updated the outcome on lesbian women competing in teamsports in the United Kingdom. She has already published research on lesbian athletes competing in the American collegiate system. Rachael is one of the first people to publish on the effect and decline of homohysteria within women’s sport. She is also part of the Sport Collision Injury Collective which is a group of academics who are aiming to reduce injuries sustained in British youth sport.

Dr Christian Edwards – his research focuses on muscularity related body-image in Men and Women. The primary focus of his work has been on the drive for muscularity (DFM) and Muscle Dysmophia. He is currently collaborating with Dr Gyozo Molnar and Dr David Tod (Liverpool John Moores University) to explore: (a) the life histories of people with high levels of DFM, and (b) how people with high DFM experience life. His published papers can be viewed at

Alison Blank - is a qualitative researcher with a keen interest in hermeneutic phenomenology. I completed a fully funded post-doctoral study in 2015 exploring the meaning and experience of belonging for marginalised and socially excluded groups of people. I am currently collaborating with colleagues in the Institute of Sport and Exercise Science on the experiences of exercise and physical activity for people aged 65+. My current project is a phenomenological exploration of physical activity and the ageing body with people over 65 years. I am particularly interested in the use of reflexivity within research, social understandings of ageing and the body, and the contribution of physical leisure occupations to health, well-being and positive ageing.

Dr Clare Rhoden – Clare’s current research focuses on psychological aspects associated with physical activity in later life. Her research is particularly interested in subjective components of ageing, awareness of age-related changes, physical activity identity, self-efficacy and emotions and how these affect whether adults engage in physical activity, sport or exercise as they age. Her research also focuses on societal influences by examining age stereotypes about physical activity and their relationship with self-perceptions of ageing. Clare coordinates the University of Worcester Active Ageing Week (September) which is associated with the International Council on Active Ageing (ICAA). Clare’s research publications can be viewed at

Gavin Thomas – is currently researching the experiences and perceptions of women working as strength and conditioning coaches, in a typically male dominated environment. This area of research has the potential to generate impact in developing our understanding as to why some women still feel disenfranchised and marginalised in sport occupations. 

PhD Projects:


Verity Postlethwaite, PhD candidate (Director of Studies – Dr Gyozo Molnar): The Mechanics of Inspiring a Generation: How has the London 2012 legacy aim to Inspire a Generation affected the policy around sport in the education sector- from bidding in 2002 to the present day- within the United Kingdom

Andrew Wedgbury, PhD candidate (Director of Studies - Dr Gyozo Molnar): Investigating key socio-cultural issues in English coarse angling.


Christian Edwards, PhD candidate (Director of Studies - Dr Gyozo Molnar): A Psycho-social investigation of drive for muscularity in young adult males.

Chris Faulkner, PhD candidate (Director of Studies - Dr Gyozo Molnar): Basketball players' migratory experiences and the implications for transnational basketball labour migration.

Adam Benkwitz, PhD candidate (Director of Studies – Dr Gyozo Molnar): Clashing Sub-Cultures: The Rivalry Between the Fans of Aston Villa and Birmingham City Football Club.

Dani Stephens, PhD candidate (Supervisor - Dr Gyozo Molnar): Cycling as serious leisure: An exploration of motivational factors, gender and consumption.



Mike Tyler - 'Sporting bodies in the Body of Christ: investigating the embodied experiences of Christian Sportsmen in the UK'

Thomas Howard – Walking sports’ effect on the subjective well-being of ageing

Chris Bright – Socio-cultural barriers to doing sports with diabetes community

Natalie Rouse - Drive for muscularity: an auto-ethnography


Jo Baker (Director of Studies - Dr Gyozo Molnar): An Exploration of the Drive for Muscularity in Males

Vacation Research Assistants 2018:

Cultural Barriers to Strength and Conditioning Women's Coaches (Gavin Thomas, Jaime Guinan & Dr Gyozo Molnar)

Vacation Research Assistants 2016:

Muscle Site Dwell Duration and Pupil Dilation in Men with High and Low levels of Drive for Muscularity. (Christian Edwards & Dr Gyozo Molnar)

Vacation Research Assistants 2015:

Drive for muscularity: Women’s experiences of living with/for muscles (Dr Gyozo Molnar & Christian Edwards)

Vacation Research Assistants 2014:

They told us to ‘Inspire a generation’: Evaluating rhetoric and realities of the Olympic/Paralympic values and participation legacy in Secondary School Physical Education contexts (Dr Geoff Kohe)

The cultural complexity of challenging post-colonial hegemonic masculinity: Women’s struggles in Fiji rugby (Dr Gyozo Molnar)