chapter  7
24 Pages

Men of steel: social class, masculinity, and cultural citizenship in post-industrial Pittsburgh: Adam S. Beissel, Michael Giardina and Joshua I. Newman

Men of steel: social class, masculinity, and cultural citizenship in postindustrial Pittsburgh Adam S. Beissela, Michael Giardinab and Joshua I. Newmanb aSchool of Physical Education, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand; bDepartment of Sport Management, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, USA

The Pittsburgh Steelers serve as a critical space for the celebration of masculinity and working-class identity in the context of (post-)industrial America. Within this article, the authors chronicle the transformation of a city, a region, and a group of people, at once steeped in the hard life of steel production and factory work, now increasingly replaced by non-physical work and suburban lifestyle of the informational economy. As in the decades before, today’s Steelers certainly operate as a symbolic reminder of the region’s identity, framed around the hard work of factory life and industrial manufacturing. We investigate how the mediated celebrity identities of three contemporary Pittsburgh Steelers – Ben Roethlisberger, James ‘The Hitman’ Harrison, and Troy Polamalu (each in his own way) – are mobilized to frame cultural citizenship in post-industrial Pittsburgh. We conclude by suggesting that the violence propagated by their bodies on (and sometimes off) the football field symbolically articulates with the ‘hard men’ and working-class life of Pittsburgh’s past.