A1 Journal article (refereed)
‘Strong and courageous’ but ‘constantly insecure’ : dialogical self theory, intersecting identities, and Christian mixed martial arts (2022)

Pauha, T., & Ronkainen, N. (2022). ‘Strong and courageous’ but ‘constantly insecure’ : dialogical self theory, intersecting identities, and Christian mixed martial arts. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 14(3), 428-443. https://doi.org/10.1080/2159676X.2021.1937297

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Pauha, Teemu; Ronkainen, Noora

Journal or series: Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health

ISSN: 2159-676X

eISSN: 2159-6778

Publication year: 2022

Publication date: 10/06/2021

Volume: 14

Issue number: 3

Pages range: 428-443

Publisher: Routledge, Taylor & Francis

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/2159676X.2021.1937297

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Partially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/76443


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.

Keywords: religion and religions; sports; athletes; masculinity; identity (mental objects); contradictions; martial arts; combat sports; narrativity; narrative psychology; autobiographical approach

Free keywords: autobiography; intersectionality; narrative theory; narrative coherenc; emasculinity; combat sports

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2022

JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2023-30-08 at 09:54