World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is the largest professional wrestling promotion in the world (Bajaj & Banerjee, 2016). Their programs air in 20 languages in over 180 countries, and in the United States approximately 11 million people watch their programs each week (“FAQ,” n.d.). These programs include six hours of televised weekly events and 16 annual pay-per-view events (“WWE Reports,” 2017). In the first quarter of 2017 the company grossed $188.4 million (“WWE Reports,” 2017). They have close ties with the current presidential administration, as Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon was the CEO of the company from 1980 to 2009 (Reuters, 2009) and President Trump has made several appearances on WWE programming in the past (“Donald Trump,” n.d.).
As of 2013, 81% of WWE’s audience had an annual household income of less than $50,000 (Miller & Washington, 2014). It can therefore be argued that WWE has a large cultural influence, especially for poor and working-class people. Its consistent popularity with this demographic suggests the working class supports the company because WWE’s content aligns with working-class values and the product evolves with its audience. Since there has been strong academic interest in America’s working class since the 2016 election, especially the white working class (Bobo, 2017; Morgan & Lee, 2017; Clark, 2017; Walley, 2017; Lamont, Park, & Ayala-Hurtado, 2017), WWE and their product are relevant to contemporary socioeconomic research. My research addresses two central questions. How does WWE and influence working-class beliefs about gender and gender roles? And how do WWE’s products and business practices reflect the value society places on different ideas and identities?
Sikon, J. M. (2018). WWE: Redefining Working-Class Womanhood through Commodified Feminism. Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio.