Moss Norman

Associate Professor

Research Classification

Research Interests

Community and public health
Critical weight studies
Indigenous Studies in Kinesiology
Indigenous physical cultures
Socio-Cultural Studies

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs

Affiliations to Research Centres, Institutes & Clusters


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

Social justice in the clinic: caring for larger patients (2022)

Many larger patients experience weight-based discrimination in healthcare settings, and are judged by practitioners as irresponsible and non-compliant (Phelan et al., 2014). Though there has been increased attention on how weight-based discrimination jeopardizes patient health outcomes (Sutin et al., 2015), empirical research is lacking on 1) practitioners who adopt a social justice approach to caring for larger patients or 2) larger patients’ experiences of receiving social justice-informed care. Social justice in practice refers to addressing intersecting macro-level inequities such as racism, sexism, and sizeism through micro-level practitioner-patient interactions (Mishler, 2005). The present study fills a research gap by examining how social justice is understood, enacted, and experienced in weight-related clinical interventions. Drawing on one-on-one interviews with 22 diverse healthcare practitioners who identify as social justice advocates and 20 larger patients served by such practitioners, four main questions were addressed: 1) How do participants understand social justice? 2) How do practitioners translate social justice principles into practice? 3) What challenges do practitioners encounter when practicing social justice? 4) How does social justice-informed care shape larger patients’ experience? The findings reveal that participants rejected the notion of obesity as an individual problem, and demonstrated a deep awareness of the broader social factors shaping weight and overall wellbeing. Nonetheless, participants’ approaches to care differed depending on whether they regarded obesity as either primarily a social construct or a biomedical fact. Furthermore, despite the prevailing paradigm of obesity as a disease, participants conveyed that non weight-related factors such as financial strain and racism more profoundly impacted patients’ health, which casts doubt on whether medicalizing obesity truly benefits larger patients. A social justice informed-approach to care was found to enhance patients’ experience, with patients expressing appreciation for having their trauma histories and social challenges handled with compassion and curiosity. The study highlights the need to integrate micro-level strategies for individual healing with a macro-level framework of systemic change, as well as cultivate in patients, clinicians, and the public at large a more nuanced understanding of weight and health. The findings provide practice-oriented insights for care informed by frameworks of weight-inclusivity, structural competency, and person-centredness.

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Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

South Asians in ‘the great outdoors’ : navigating racialized experiences rock climbing in so-called Canada (2023)

The underrepresentation of South Asians in climbing (Wigfield, 2021) is a significant indicator of the racial inequity in the sport and culture. This underrepresentation is all the more significant when we consider that South Asians are Canada’s largest visible minority group (Statistics Canada, 2017). While there is a small body of sociocultural scholarship around outdoor rock climbing, there are no studies focused on the experiences of South Asian Canadians specifically, or even racialized climbers more broadly. In response, this study examined the condition of a group of South Asian Canadian climbers, through the design of three data construction methods. These methods include:(1) observations from a day of outdoor rock climbing; (2) an on-site focus group discussion; and (3) an online questionnaire related to a photo creation from the day of outdoor rock climbing. While the focus group prioritized hearing the voices of South Asian climbers affected by the sociocultural conditions of climbing in Canada, the questionnaire focused on understanding the conditions themselves, which are in part created through the attitudes of other climbers. Both data sets were analyzed using a critical race theory lens, to consider how and to what extent the climbers’ racialized identities impacted their climbing experiences. The findings of this study were categorized into three main themes. The first theme looked at the experiences of South Asian climbers more generally, revealing experiences of disconnect and alienation from climbing communities, experiences which were perpetuated by Whiteness. The second theme outlined how the study participants negotiated their racial identities in pervasively White climbing culture, through adopting White supremacist ideologies, forming hybrid identities, and seeking connection and support. The third theme presented the ways in which the racialized bodies of South Asian climbers disrupted current Whitestream climbing culture, such as through creating a desire for solidarity among the marginalized and reinterpreting the ideals of Canadian multiculturalism. Findings from this study suggest that Whiteness must be interrogated, as well as all sites of privilege—such as gender, sexuality, ‘race,’ class and ability—by all climbers, in order to foster culturally safe and relevant climbing experiences for South Asian Canadian climbers.​​

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A study exploring Indigenous women athlete's experiences with physical activity and sport (2022)

This research project sought to explore how Indigenous women athletes experience physical activity and sport through an Indigenous feminisms lens. Five of the ninety-four Calls to Action that have come out of the Final Report of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2015) are directly related to sport and physical activity. This means that sport and physical activity are positioned as important to processes of reconciliation in Canada. Indigenous participation and achievement in sport and physical activity have largely been ignored in Canadian history and excluded from historical narrative as a result of colonialism and cultural erasure (Hall, 2013). Indigenous women, in particular, lie at an intersection that results in distinctly different experiences due to the impacts of gendered colonialism on Indigenous communities. This research study employed methods guided by community-based participatory research, in partnership with the Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Circle (ISPARC), conducting virtual focus groups with Indigenous women athletes (17-19 years) who reside in rural or remote areas and are part of Team BC for the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG). This study explored the following research questions: What are the experiences of young Indigenous women engaged in high performance mainstream sport generally, and Indigenous sport more specifically? What do young Indigenous women want/need in terms of their current and future experiences in sport and physical activity? Using thematic analysis, the research study found that Indigenous girls and women’s experiences are still impacted by colonial structures of racism, classism and sexism. However, these oppressive systems can be dismantled through decolonial practices of relationality, intergenerational support, and increasing Indigenous representation of Indigenous girls and women at all levels of physical activity and sport. This research study also found that physical activity can act as a site of resurgence and holistic wellbeing. This study is significant as it helps fill a gap in the existing scholarly literature on Indigenous women’s experiences in physical activity and sport. Moreover, this study also has possible applied significance as it has the potential to inform culturally-relevant sport and recreation programming for Indigenous girls and women.

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A picture says a thousand words&or does it? An investigation of body capital and embodied understandings of health and fitness on Instagram (2019)

This research investigated the relationship between the processes of producing and consuming Instagram media and how these practices shape young women’s embodied understandings of fitness and health. There has been widespread anxiety within popular discourse about how young women use Instagram, especially in relation to health and fitness ideals, and this anxiety is often uncritically reflected in research. There have been relatively few studies that examine how people actually use social media in relation to health and fitness practices and even fewer that explore how young women use social media to make sense of their embodied health identities. This research goes some way towards filling this gap.This study filled those gaps by providing insight into how women produce, read, and experience Instagram content in relation to their own bodies, identities, and experiences across a myriad of social settings. Hence, this research examined meaning making at the intersection where young women simultaneously produce their own Instagram content, while also consuming the content of other users. Nine women who were aged 20-24 years and currently enrolled in kinesiology degrees at various Canadian universities were individually interviewed using semi-structured auto-driven photo elicitation techniques. The results of this research found that there is no simple explanation, rather the notion that Instagram use is complex, paradoxical and multi-layered serves as the most straightforward finding. This research moves Instagram use beyond moral panic discourse by highlighting that Instagram does not exist as only ‘good’ or ‘bad’, rather it is a rich, layered, and nuanced space, whereby the outcomes of user experiences are influenced by unique engagements that depend upon a myriad of factors (lived experiences, mood, fitness level, and so on). The outcome of this study inspires critical thought about social media and its relationship to health behaviors, body image, and exercise habits. Furthermore, this research contributes to a range of literatures including critical media studies, physical cultural studies, and the sociology of health and illness and has several practical applications including informing media literacy and physical and health education curricula.

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Current Students & Alumni

This is a small sample of students and/or alumni that have been supervised by this researcher. It is not meant as a comprehensive list.

Membership Status

Member of G+PS
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