‘Strong and courageous’ but ‘constantly insecure’ : dialogical self theory, intersecting identities, and Christian mixed martial arts
Pauha, T., & Ronkainen, N. (2021). ‘Strong and courageous’ but ‘constantly insecure’ : dialogical self theory, intersecting identities, and Christian mixed martial arts. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, Early online, 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1080/2159676X.2021.1937297
Published inQualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
Being a mixed martial arts fighter and a devout Christian seems to present an apparent contradiction that requires identity work to bring these identities into unity. We used Dialogical Self Theory and explored the autobiography of Ron ‘H2O’ Waterman, a professional fighter turned evangelist, to understand how the tensions between the different identities or I-positions were negotiated. We identified two I-positions, ‘Ron the Fighter’ and ‘Ron the Pater Familias’, which related differently to religion, sport, and masculinity. Importantly, the negotiations were not between MMA and faith, but between these two I-positions that served the different needs for self-enhancement and union with somebody else. The findings illustrate that some degree of narrative coherence is needed for maintaining psychological well-being, which in Waterman’s case was established by finding a third position that incorporated parts of both I-positions. We suggest that Dialogical Self Theory provides a promising perspective for understanding identity intersectionality in sport and how healthy and problematic stories are developed. Practical applications include supporting athletes in developing ‘meta-positions’ that can articulate the conflicts between incompatible I-positions and help identify ways to move forward. ...