"I feel proud when I close all rings on my Apple watch" - A qualitative study on gender differences, digital landscape, and late Millennials personal health within the fitness culture
Abstract: During the past years, fitness has seen a shift in trends, moving from collectivistic to individualistic reasons to exercise. Some researchers even go as far as describing the concept of "healthism" as an ideology of modern society, emphasizing the subordinate value of a fit and slender body as a metaphor for a successful life. This has led to the establishment of athleisure, the combination of fashion and sports in clothing that are designed to be worn both in and outside of the gym. Simultaneously, there is a tremendous growth of technology, with Millennials being the first generation to be fully globalized online. In the era of digitalization, where social media is used as a means to construct a social and personal sense of health, the pressure on the individual increases. This thesis aims to investigate gender differences for late Millennials within the Swedish fitness culture in order to further develop upon the idea of why these differences occur. The digital landscape will be looked into as well as the personal health issues of late Millennials to understand how they come into play within the fitness culture and how the culture is consumed. Valuable insights will be gathered through qualitative in-depth interviews with late Millennials, which together with the theoretical framework will lay the foundation for the abductive approach used in this study. In terms of findings, hegemonic masculinity seems to capture the differences found between females and males, evolving around the idea that females are perceived as passive objectives whereas males are judged based on their performing body. Further, expectations from parents seem to be of importance. One may even argue that the competitive and result-oriented characteristics of Generation X may cause a perception among late Millennials that they need to prove themselves worthy of love and respect from their parents. Managerial implications include the importance for brands to focus their marketing on contributing to a long-term health perspective, and how athleisure can be adapted for males.
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