How Digital Fitness Forums Shape IPED Access, Use, and Community Harm Reduction Behaviours

Turnock, Luke A. and Townshend, Honor D. (2022) How Digital Fitness Forums Shape IPED Access, Use, and Community Harm Reduction Behaviours. In: Doping in Sport and Fitness. Research in the Sociology of Sport, 16 . Emerald, pp. 155-179. ISBN 9781801171588, 9781801171571

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How Digital Fitness Forums Shape IPED Access, Use, and Community Harm Reduction Behaviours
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Overview: With digital spaces an increasing feature of our everyday lives, and the internet now a primary means of sourcing IPEDs and information regarding their use, this chapter seeks to understand the intersections between social-cultural aspects of digital fitness forum communities and the shaping/dissemination of culturally-embedded harm reduction advice. With recent research highlighting how the culturally-embedded systems of advice within IPED-using cultures help inform harm reduction behaviours, this chapter examines how the structure and community aspects of forums shape harm reduction behaviours among users.
Methods: Findings are drawn from two qualitative netnographic studies conducted on fitness forums, both with a focus on IPED-using behaviours and beliefs regarding IPEDs. The first study occurred as part of a connective ethnography of both offline and digital fitness spaces, whilst the second focussed on digital IPED-using communities, particularly exploring the contexts of Covid-19 and lockdowns on IPED-using behaviours. Both studies used thematic and narrative analysis, with thematic categories identified and findings constructed inductively.
Results: Our studies identified several key areas in which forum community norms and structures serve to inform harm reduction behaviours. This included forum reputation systems and the ways in which these shaped IPED access, including through elevating ‘expert’ users and encouraging informed discussion regarding product quality, to the emergence of steroid testing services from forums as a community harm reduction tool. Second, forums were observed to often encourage users to conduct research and inform themselves regarding safe use, though limitations to this norm were also documented in relation to poor-quality medical advice, highlighting the issues with IPED users' reliance on anecdotal advice in the contexts of prohibition. Finally, the role of digital fitness forums as cultural ‘safe spaces’ is considered, examining both how this can be harmful to IPED users from excluded or ‘otherised’ groups, but simultaneously offers cultural participants the opportunity for airing vulnerabilities in a space where their masculine identity is not threatened in doing so, thus facilitating harm reduction among cultural ‘insiders’.

Keywords:IPEDs, Online supply, Forums, Masculinities, Harm reduction, Safe spaces
Subjects:L Social studies > L300 Sociology
L Social studies > L320 Gender studies
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Social & Political Sciences
ID Code:52790
Deposited On:12 Dec 2022 14:10

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