Prof. Dr. Robert Gugutzer
Photo: Uwe Dettmer
Robert Gugutzer has served since 2009 as professor for the social sciences of sport at the Goethe University Frankfurt. He studied sociology, political science, and psychology at the University of Tübingen and the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, earned his PhD at the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg with a dissertation titled Leib, Körper und Identität. Eine phänomenologisch-soziologische Untersuchung zur personalen Identität (Felt body, physical body, and identity: A phenomenological-sociological study on personal identity), and completed his habilitation at the University of Augsburg with a thesis titled Verkörperungen des Sozialen. Neophänomenologische Grundlagen und soziologische Analysen (Embodiments of the social: Neophenomenological foundations and sociological analyses). His primary research interest is sociology of the body, on which he has written the only German-language introduction (sixth edition to be published in 2022) and co-edited a two-volume, 1200-page handbook (second edition to be published in 2022). One of his further research interests is sociology of sport, currently sport addiction and the atmospheres of sport in particular. He has served since 2017 as editor-in-chief of Sport und Gesellschaft, a key journal in this field of research. His main philosophical interest is new phenomenology, on the basis of which he is developing the theory and research program of a neophenomenological sociology (of sport).
- Robert Gugutzer (2020): Atmosphären, Situationen und der Sport. Ein neophänomenologischer Beitrag zur soziologischen Atmosphärenforschung. In: Zeitschrift für Soziologie 49 (5-6), pp. 371-390.
- Robert Gugutzer (2019): Being and feeling addicted to exercise: Reflections from a neophenomenological perspective. In: Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 46 (1), pp. 30-48.
- Robert Gugutzer/Gabriele Klein/Michael Meuser (Hg.) (2017): Handbuch Körpersoziologie (Band 1: Grundbegriffe und theoretische Perspektiven, Band 2: Forschungsfelder und methodische Zugänge.) Wiesbaden: Springer VS.
- Robert Gugutzer (2017): Leib und Situation. Zum Theorie- und Forschungsprogramm der Neophänomenologischen Soziologie. In: Zeitschrift für Soziologie 46 (3), pp. 147-166.
- Robert Gugutzer (2015): Soziologie des Körpers (5., vollst. überarbeitete und erweiterte Aufl.). Bielefeld: transcript.
- Robert Gugutzer (2012): Verkörperungen des Sozialen. Neophänomenologische Grundlagen und soziologische Analysen, Bielefeld: transcript.
- Karl-Heinrich Bette/Robert Gugutzer (2012): Sport als Sucht. Zur Soziologie einer stoffungebundenen Abhängigkeit. In: Sport und Gesellschaft 9 (2), pp. 107-130.
Research project: Strength—Sport—Addiction: Approaches to the addiction potential of strength, muscle, and fitness sport from phenomenology of the felt body and sociology of the body
Strength is a constitutive element of every sporting activity. In this context, sports science has traditionally distinguished between maximal, speed, and reactive strength as well as muscular endurance. It thus has a physical understanding of strength. This may be differentiated from a phenomenological understanding of strength. For example, strength in sport appears from the first-person perspective as a vital drive to move one’s body, as a felt-bodily intensity in exerting oneself, as an excruciating resistance in keeping at a sporting activity, as the pull of the slipstream in cycling, as leading and following in partner dance, as a suggestion of motion emanating from the rhythmic clapping of the spectators, or as the powerful feeling of being seized by competition anxiety or by panic before taking a shot on goal. The central aesthetic symbol of strength in and through sport is muscles. This has a social equivalent in strength, muscle, and fitness sports (powerlifting, bodybuilding, CrossFit, etc.). As empirical studies demonstrate, there are more and more people for whom strength, muscle, and fitness sport is of such central importance that they can be said to be dependent on their sport. Sports science speaks in such cases of a sport addiction.
The main focus of my research project is a felt-body phenomenological and body-sociological examination of the addiction potential of strength, muscle, and fitness sports. It thus prepares the theoretical-conceptual framework and the empirical part of a book project on the topic of "addiction careers in sport".
Research results: Strength—Sport—Addiction: Approaches to the addiction potential of strength, muscle, and fitness sport from phenomenology of the felt body and sociology of the body
I used my stay at the CAS on the one hand for further work on the book project “Addiction Careers in Sport", and on the other hand for the draft of a "Phenomenology of Force".
The first part of my fellowship was devoted to analyzing and interpreting interviews with sports-addicted women and men who primarily practice strength, muscle, or fitness sports, such as bodybuilding, powerlifting, or Crossfit. The focus here was on the question of the addictive potential of "strength" in these sports, since it becomes an explicit topic here. On the empirical basis of two interviews, which will be included in the book as biographical case analyses, I reconstructed the felt-bodily, bodily-functional, and symbolic-aesthetic dimensions of sports-addicted action and experience.
Following on from this, in the second part of my fellowship I dealt with the semester's topic of "physical strength" from a phenomenological perspective. What phenomenon is bodily strength resp. force in general? In addressing this question, the felt-bodily dimension of force came into focus. Thus, my work on a phenomenology of force resulted in an essay* in which I defined force as "intrusive action through unilateral incorporation." Depending on the source of the force, the force's intrusive action can be experienced in the first-person perspective as pulling/pushing, centrifugal/centripetal, lifting/lowering, strong/weak, light/heavy. This phenomenology of force is likely to be relevant both to the topic of (sports) addiction - addiction is a force phenomenon - and to sociology - social forces operate on a (trans)bodily level.
* Gugutzer, Robert (2022): Phänomenologie der Kraft. Ein Entwurf in soziologischer Absicht. In: Jonas Barth/Anna Henkel (eds.): Leib. Grenze. Kritik. Festschrift für Gesa Lindemann zum 66. Geburtstag. Weilerswist: Velbrück, pp. 61-73.