Gender, Identity and the Body



Gender, Identity and the Body Research Theme is part of the Inclusive Sports and Physical Activity 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 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 Győző Molnár 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


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 School 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.

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 


Vacation Research Assistants

Vacation Research Assistants 2018:

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

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 Győző Molnár)

Vacation Research Assistants 2015:

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

Vacation Research Assistants 2014:

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