Hutson, David J. 2017. “Plump or Corpulent? Lean or Gaunt? Historical Categories of Bodily Health in Nineteenth-Century Thought.” Social Science History, 41(2): 283-303.

Hutson, David J. 2017. “Teaching Critical Perspectives on Body Weight: The Obesity 'Epidemic' and Pro-Ana Movement in Classroom Discussions.” Teaching Sociology, 45(1): 41-53.

Hutson, David J.  2016.  “Training Bodies, Building Status: Negotiating Gender and Age Differences in the U.S. Fitness Industry.”  Qualitative Sociology 39(1): 49-70.  [Download PDF]

Hutson, David J.  2013.  “‘Your Body is Your Business Card’: Bodily Capital and Health Authority in the Fitness Industry.” Social Science & Medicine 90: 63-71. [Download PDF]

Hutson, David J.  2011.  "Looking Within from Without." Advances in Medical Sociology, Vol. 12: Sociology of Diagnosis, pp. xxix-xxxvii, PJ McGann and David J. Hutson (eds).  Emerald Publishing Group: Wales, UK.

Hutson, David J.  2010.  “Standing OUT/Fitting IN: Identity, Appearance, and Authenticity in Gay and Lesbian Communities.”  Symbolic Interaction 33(2): 213-233. [Download PDF]

Martin, Karin A., David J. Hutson, Emily Kazyak, and Kristin S. Scherrer.  2010.  “Advice When Children Come Out: The Cultural ‘Tool Kits’ of Parents.” Journal of Family Issues 31(7): 960-991.

Under Review & In Preparation

Hutson, David J. “Resisting and Reframing: How Women Navigate the Medicalization of Pregnancy Weight.” (In Preparation)

Hutson, David J. “The Promise and Limits of Bourdieu’s ‘Bodily Capital’: Theorizing Embodiment and Inequality.” (In Preparation)


My research engages the areas of health, gender, body/embodiment, and social psychology.  I am primarily interested in how the body functions as a form of status, how aspects of embodiment intersect with other markers of identity and inequality (race, gender, class, sexuality), and how it is shaped through various cultural practices.  Of particular interest is the work that people do to increase their “bodily capital” through exercise, dieting, clothing, and even cosmetic surgery, as such efforts are often conscious attempts to navigate status hierarchies.

In a large study based on fieldwork and in-depth interviews from a stratified sample of gyms, I explore how “expert” trainers and “novice” clients from varying social backgrounds negotiate status differences using "bodily capital"—a multi-faceted concept including appearance, attractiveness, and physical ability.  In some cases, trainers were able to gain interactional authority over clients, who typically inhabited much higher status locations.  In doing so, clients came to trust a trainer’s health knowledge due to their fit-appearing physiques, and allowed exercise to be seen as a type of health work where treatment and diagnosis occur.  This research raises important questions about interactions in health care settings, and finds that appearance is significant for establishing and maintaining authority.

My current research includes a content analysis of 19th-century medical journals to examine historical understandings of bodily health in contrast to contemporary BMI categories; and an on-going project interviewing pregnant and recently pregnant women about the experience of putting on and trying to take off “baby weight.”  As one of the few social spaces where women are expected to gain weight, pregnancy offers a unique window for investigating how individuals think about their identity, appearance, and health.

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