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Egor Sokolov

The Greco-Roman Wrestling Training Hall: "The Soviet Style" and Hegemonic Masculinity.
Egor Sokolov (philosophy/sociology/Lomonosov Moscow State University)

This paper presents the intermediate results of a research, which is being performed in one the greco-roman wrestling training halls in Moscow since June 2015. The goal of this research is to connect bodies and their social paths according to Bourdieu’s approach to describe the bodily dispositives, i.e. heterogeneous ensembles containing techniques, discourses, institutions and things, which serve the perception and production of bodies at the same time.

The training hall is located at the stadium, which was built in Soviet times for the football team of an automobile building plant. The automotive production there was finally ended in 2013 and in 2014 the demolition of the factory buildings was started. The project, which caused disaffection by the district residents, amateur sportsmen and fans, is intended to build high-rise luxury real estate and to construct a major 6-lined highway along the banks of the Moscow River. At the moment an initiative group of inhabitants resists the building. Meanwhile the real estate development company, despite of an economical crisis in Russia, launches a promotional campaign, which is oriented to the wealthiest customers.

The wrestlers training in this hall cannot be categorized under one socioeconomic group. Almost all of them live and work in other districts of Moscow. Compared to the boxers described by Wacquant, the wrestlers connection to the surrounding of the training hall is much weaker, almost invisible. Some of them have taken part in the public hearings concerning the real estate development, however this story, which was brought up to discussion in the changing room only for a few times, serves just as a source of impulsive anti-capitalistic discouragement (“When it is a matter of such huge amounts of money, there is no chance”). The connection with the stadium is being thematized rather in a stylistical direction: the preserved “soviet style” is being related to the traditions and victories of soviet wrestlers and is being opposed to the sport activities.
The stadium, which requires from some of the wrestlers more than an hour of travelling time, corresponds to their perceptions of men’s bodily work. The bodily practice is not “neutral”. On the contrary it reproduces a certain dispositif: it reproduces a local community, in which the bodily distinctions are at the same time cultural, social and (implicitly) political. Sport socialisation and entering the world of wrestling expect a “taken for granted” adoption of “hegemonic masculinity”. Some of the key elements of this complex, which I hope to tell about in detail are: sexism, double sexual standard, homophobia, xenophobia, idolism of criminal culture and boldness, imperative of bodily work.