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Boxers Briefs or Bras? Bodies Gender and Change in the Boxing Gym

In this ethnography of Full Contact, a San Francisco Bay Area boxing gym, I use Bourdieu’s theory of practice to illustrate how ‘rules of the game’ shape people’s perceptions, interactions and positions (capital). First, I show how the unwritten, unspoken rules of boxing as a field (its doxa) impact readings of bodies and bodily capital, readings that then have an impact on micro-level interactions and hierarchies at Full Contact. Second, I show the micro-level consequences of hysteresis – delays in the realignment of habitus and field that result from change at the field level – on social interactions and hierarchies. Gender is at the core of my analysis, for it is both a fundamental part of my and others’ habitus, and a symbolic trait of significance in the hypermasculine doxa of boxing as a field.