Wrestler's Masculinity in Dagestan as a Local Hegemony

Wrestler's Masculinity in Dagestan as a Local Hegemony

Poliakov S.I.

Research Fellow, Centre for Youth Studies, National Research University Higher School of Economics, St.-Petersburg, Russia spoliakov@hse.ru

ID of the Article:

The reported study was funded by RFBR, project No. 19-311-90056.

For citation:

Poliakov S.I. Wrestler's Masculinity in Dagestan as a Local Hegemony. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2021. No 10. P. 116-124


The article analyzes the reproduction of hegemonic masculinity in the local context, using the example of masculinity of freestyle wrestlers in the Republic of Dagestan, a multinational subject of the Russian Federation dominated by the Muslim population. Based on 20 semi-structured in-depth biographical interviews with current and former wrestlers, as well as interviews with 15 young Dagestani men not involved in wrestling practices, I discover four key mechanisms of support for hegemonic masculinity. The functioning of wrestling as a mass sport in Dagestan, due to the sport specialization of the republic, leads to the generalization of the ideal of masculinity and related practices. Regular recruitment of wrestlers into the political elite thus solving the issue of its own legitimacy in the eyes of the local population, supports the associations of this variant of male subjectivity with social prestige, power and success. The wrestlers’ alliance with religious (Islamic) elites provides their masculinity with ideological legitimation. The transition from traditional to modern society due to late urbanization generates mass frustration regarding men’s loss of control over the domestic sphere and the upbringing of their sons fraught with a crisis of reproduction of proper masculinity. In this context, freestyle wrestling sections function as an institution for maintaining the power of older men over younger ones.

hegemonic masculinity; Dagestan; freestyle wrestling; mass sports; power of Elders
Content No 10, 2021