Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
First Committee Member
Michael I. Borer
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Fourth Committee Member
Number of Pages
Due to the legalization of social taboos including prostitution, gambling, and marijuana, many historical portrayals of Las Vegas have been unfavorable. Furthermore, powerful mediated imagery complete with vivid pictures of encouraged hedonism and celebrated debauchery has added to negative perceptions of this city. Despite negative sentiments, city officials are often unapologetic, and even publicly boastful about the absence of traditional values and communal appeal. However, I argue that many depictions of this city do not tell the full story of what is going on here. I looked beyond surface-level imagery and representations of Las Vegas, to discover a strong sense of community does exist here, albeit I had to look in an unusual place to find it – in the world of prizefighting. In this study, I show how a sense of community is centered around Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) culture. Around 2001, MMA had a niche following in Las Vegas, but has since flourished into a worldwide social phenomenon. During this ethnographic exploration of community within Las Vegas, I use MMA culture as an analytical tool, as a lens, to better understand how people find a sense of meaning in this city, and where they go to do it. One major implication of this study is that we may have to look in seemingly unusual places to better understand where community is created in the city, and how it is sustained.
Culture; Mixed Martial Arts; Place; Scenes; Sports; Urban
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
O'hara, Brian, "Fighting For Fellowship: An Ethnographic Exploration of Mixed Martial Arts Culture in Las Vegas" (2018). UNLV Theses, Dissertations, Professional Papers, and Capstones. 3374.
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