Gender, Identity and the Body



Gender, Identity and the Body Research Group

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;
  • encourage research that generates local/regional/global impact;
  • actively seek out external research funding opportunities;
  • provide a research-focused, supportive environment for researcher of all levels.

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



Dr Gyozo Molnar – has published work around post-communist transition, 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 Molnar’s most recent research, with Dr Nancy Spencer, University of Alberta, focuses on challenging dominant perspectives in Adapted Physical Activity research and is funded by the British Academy.



Dr 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.

Rebecca Foster, MBE – Rebecca's research profile centres around disability issues within sport.  Her main interest is Deaf sport linking to pedagogy and the influence teacher training can have on disability awareness. She is also interested in mainstream P.E. and developing high quality PE provision.

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 Dysmorphia. 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

Polly Lasota – she is currently completing her PhD thesis in the professional learning and development pedagogies for coaches with disabilities, including both congenital and acquired disabilities. Significant aspects of the thesis is the in-depth exploration around ‘the body’ and intersectional identities for the individuals involved.

Gill Renfree - has research interests in sport organisational politics, stakeholder relationships and sport consumerism.  She is currently working on an EU Sport Erasmus + funded project focusing on developing, delivering and evaluating an innovative educational resources specifically designed to educate Generation Z on the issues relating to gender equality and equal opportunities in sport. Gill is also working on other research projects related to perceptions of equality in sport, authentic learning environments and also an ongoing project focusing on parkrun volunteer motivations and retention.

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 


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

Chris Russell, PhD Candidate (Association for Dementia Studies & School of Sport & Exercise Science): How does engagement with the activities of community-based leisure and fitness centres enable people living with dementia to maintain and develop their sense of identity? A phenomenological study.

Deborah Tomkinson, PhD candidate (Director of Studies - Dr Clare Rhoden): Identity transformations: Exploring single, older women’s adjustments to physical aging through participation in physical activity.

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


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

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

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




Beth Burgess – Experiences of women with non-normative sexuality in individual sports

Alex Gardener – Homogenizing Dual Identities in Women’s Rugby: Socio-cultural Perceptions of RFU ‘Inner Warrior’ Programme

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

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

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


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


Vacation Research Assistants

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:

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