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Title:Exercise science depression studies: A cultural, interpretive, and science studies perspective
Author(s):Clarke, Caitlin L. Vitosky
Director of Research:Sydnor, Synthia
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Sydnor, Synthia
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Denzin, Norman; Littlefield, Melissa; Cole, C.L.; Chiu, Chung-Yi
Department / Program:Kinesiology & Community Health
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Sociology of Mental Health Exercise Science Depression Science and Technology Studies Sport Sociology Cultural Sport Psychology Exercise Psychology Disability Studies
Abstract:This dissertation takes an interdisciplinary approach to exercise science research on depression, providing a cultural interpretive and science studies perspective. I locate this work at the intersections of multiple fields including kinesiology, sport sociology, disability studies, body studies, and science and technology studies (STS). I analyzed 13 meta-analyses and systematic reviews focused on exercise interventions for depression, published between 2013-2017. Based on my findings, I challenge exercise science’s framing of depression as a costly societal burden, exercise as prescription drug, and the use of prescreening tools as technologies for identifying and rating depressive symptoms. This is particularly relevant given that the World Health Organization listed depression as its top priority for 2017. There is an increased interest in exercise prescription, thus a sociocultural contribution is warranted. I argue that the promotion of exercise as treatment for depression requires more unpacking from a critical cultural perspective. Such an analysis does not aim to delegitimate the appropriateness of exercise interventions. Rather, I am interested in understanding the arguments made by researchers regarding the relationship between exercise and depression. I am primarily interested in studying how exercise science depression studies view depression through their descriptions, definition choices, and proposed relationships between physical activity and depression. My findings offer further insight into the validity of those claims as well as suggestions for ways to modify or add to the design and methodology for future research on this topic and other similar topics. Based on my findings, particularly in relation to the framework of depression as a societal burden and the uncritical and uncontextualized use of clinical prescreening tools, I argue that exercise science must be wary of promoting affective hardening through exercise prescription. I argue that this notion of affective hardening is an extension of historic attempts to harden bodies through physical activity, rooted in ableism and stigma. I acknowledge that we in exercise science operate within a larger social structure. I use my findings to highlight the ways in which research publications in exercise science depression studies help to create and maintain the social structure within which we operate. I conclude by advocating select alternative socioculturally based frameworks that better incorporate empathy for people with mental illness; such frameworks are based in some disability studies the sociology of mental illness.
Issue Date:2019-04-17
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Caitlin Vitosky Clarke
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-08-23
Date Deposited:2019-05

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