Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Master of Arts

Program

Anthropology

Supervisor

Dr. Douglass St. Christian

Abstract

This research uses a micro-level approach to focus on the day to day lives of squash players at a Toronto squash and fitness club. How different members conceived of the club as a community was one important aspect of my research. The club’s skill hierarchy and structure were also important ideas that influenced the everyday behavior of members, as it affected who members tended to develop relationships with. The greater social status of higher ranked players and how this was maintained is another important theme of this work. Members’ squash identity was usually grounded and initiated within the context of the squash club and often took the form of a kind of group identity, even though there were some exceptions. The last part of my work focuses on a “ritual of reversal”, known as the Calcutta tournament. This tournament mostly acts to reinforce the status quo of the club, but also opens up the possibility for change. I used semi-structured interviews and an intense form of participant observation called “experiential positivism” to carry out my work. My work reveals that even playing squash at a club, a practice many would consider to be mundane or trivial, is in reality quite complicated because it is a unique social and cultural environment that has its own structures, rules and idiosyncrasies.


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