Ethnography Paper

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Ethnography: A Study of the State University Recreation Center

Heath, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”. When studying the concept of health and healthy lifestyles, from a sociological standpoint, this definition remains the basis for all perspectives. Health is not only a biological state, but a bounty of social occurrences, therefore ultimately being the result of a one’s social environment. In our ethnography study of a common gym environment, this sociological concept of healthy lifestyles heavily prevails, being derived from the location, the atmosphere, and the behaviors of the population within, along with the underlying theories of peer group socialization, peer pressure, and gender roles. The scene for our ethnography study was Valdosta State University Recreational Center, located on the Valdosta State Campus, a college settled in the city of Valdosta. Through examination of observations and one-on-one interviews, common sociological aspects of healthy lifestyles come into play, along with quite a few minor concepts as well. First off, it is apparent that each person working out within the gym is there for a purpose: to become healthier. One’s health is not only the wellness of one’s overall physical and mental state, but it is a reflection of the social environment. Groups of people and individuals alike had set ways of going about their exercises, which were ultimately based off their surroundings. For instance, most individuals were observed exercising with the accompaniment of a personal music device, one that only they can listen to. Even though the gym provided forms of entertainment, these people chose to use their own forms, keeping them isolated from the locations given entertainment as well as any further social interactions with other people. Meanwhile, groups of people fed off each other’s social encouragement to both work out harder and longer than the said individual. This is a prime example of not only the proven sociological side of healthy lifestyles, but also the impact of peer group socialization in the given environment. Then there is the prevalence of gender roles. As our observations state, most males were found in the strength training area, whereas most females were found in the cardiovascular and mats areas. These occurrences go hand-in-hand with society’s views on men and women. The man, being the strong, brute force, strength trains to be a crucial asset among his peer groups, and the woman, being the lean, beautiful half of mankind, uses the benefits of a cardiovascular workout to tone and shed the unwanted pounds. Again, these stereotypical roles are birthed from the whole of our society, and relating back to peer pressure as well. Both genders feel the need to play out the part they are handed. Overall, this ethnography study shows that the basis of healthy lifestyles depends on several sociological theories. Health doesn’t only depend on whether one is physically or mentally “sick” or “well”, it is more a product of one’s social occurrences and surroundings. The influence of society on one’s healthy actions can make or break any chances at a potentially healthy lifestyle, as each and every one of us are subject to not only our own routines, but the pressures, the support, and the standards of our peers and our world. Literature Review

Our ethnographic field study concentrated on Valdosta State University’s Student Recreation Center. We chose to focus on the gym aspect of the recreation center from a women’s perspective. We wanted to find out if women are intimidated working out in areas with men. Do they chose to workout in areas where there are not men in the area, or does the presence of men not bother them at all? In order to answer these questions we had to do outside research at the topic in general before...
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