“You Have to Accept the Pain”: Body Callusing and Body Capital in Circus Aerialism

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.18778/1733-8077.17.4.01

Keywords:

Circus Aerialism, Body Capital, Risk, Injury, Pain, Training, Aging

Abstract

Little sociological research has examined the work of circus aerialists. Drawing from interviews with 31 circus aerialists in Canada, we explore what aerialists say about their bodies. Circus aerialism is an intense form of physical work, and aerialists endure intense pain during training and performance. Engaging with sociologies of the body and injury, we examine how body capital is generated, maintained, and lost in the career of the aerialist, as well as how injury accelerates this process. Injury and “aging out” of the circus are prominent themes in what aerialists say about their bodies. Arguing that circus aerialism is an undervalued form of work in which risk accumulates in aerialist bodies, we explore how aerialist bodies provide tacit cues about how to avoid injury and when to consider retirement. In the conclusion, we explain how this work contributes to sociologies of the body and circus.

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Author Biographies

Kevin Walby, University of Winnipeg, Canada

Kevin Walby is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Winnipeg. He is the co-author of Municipal Corporate Security in International Context, as well as A Criminology of Policing and Security Frontiers. He is the co-editor of Access to Information and Social Justice: Critical Research Strategies for Journalists, Scholars and Activists; Brok­ering Access: Power, Politics and Freedom of Information Process in Canada; The Handbook of Prison Tourism; Corporatizing Canada: Making Business Out of Public Service; National Security, Surveillance, and Terror: Canada and Australia in Comparative Perspective; Policing Cities: Urban Securitization and Regulation in a 21st Century World; Corporate Security in the 21st Century: Theory and Practice in International Perspective; and Emotions Matter: A Relational Approach to Emotions. He is the co-editor of the Journal of Prisoners on Prisons.

Shawn Stuart, University of Winnipeg, Canada

Shawn Stuart holds a Master of Science in Criminal Justice from the University of Oklahoma. She has broad research interests in social identity and social control. Her primary research interest is in understanding belonging and how it is impacted by social exclusion, as well as how belonging shapes our relationships, social groups, and cognitive processes.

 

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Published

2021-10-31

How to Cite

Walby, K., & Stuart, S. (2021). “You Have to Accept the Pain”: Body Callusing and Body Capital in Circus Aerialism. Qualitative Sociology Review, 17(4), 6-23. https://doi.org/10.18778/1733-8077.17.4.01

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