Wrestling has seen a recent surge in popularity. It is important to examine the racial, ethnic, and gender stereotypes used by professional wrestling to appeal to the audience. Most scholars claim that the professional wrestling audience is made up of members of the working class, and theories on the working class contend that this group participates in distinct cultural practices in reaction to the economic and social constraints that they face. I argue that watching professional wrestling was one such cultural practice. I explored this argument by distributing surveys to a wrestling audience at a live match, where I participated as a member of the audience and made observations about the fans, the matches, and the production techniques that were used. I also conducted a content analysis of twenty hours of wrestling footage. I found that fans of professional wrestling are primarily lower class, white men, and given their particular social situation as oppressed people living in a complex world, the images of professional wrestling have a particular appeal to them. The results of the content analysis showed that these images dealt mainly with the themes of class conflict, gender and sexuality, and ethnicity. Two other lesser themes, mental instability and fantasy also emerged.
Sociology and Anthropology
Lang, Matthew R., ""I Should Kick Your Ass Just For Wearin' Them Ugly Shoes:" An Exploration Into the Popularity of Professional Wrestling" (1999). Senior Independent Study Theses. Paper 5630.
Bachelor of Arts
Senior Independent Study Thesis
© Copyright 1999 Matthew R. Lang