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Physical Education, Sports and Gender.

Watson, B., Caudwell, J., Wheaton, B. and Mansfield, L., 2021. Physical Education, Sports and Gender. In: Mayo, C., ed. Oxford Encyclopedia of Gender and Sexuality in Education. Oxford University Press.

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FINAL Watson Caudwell Wheaton Mansfield -PE--Sports--and-Gender-MSS04a.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.


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DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190264093.013.1352


Researching gender across Physical Education (PE), sport and physical activity (PA) has firm associations with feminism. As a political movement for gender justice, feminist research examines the ways in which active bodies are dynamic and evolving. This feminist scrutiny is underpinned by scholarship that explores both formal educational and sporting contexts as well as informal activities. The term sport incorporates a range of physical practices and a review of extant literature demonstrates the persistence of gendered power relations and the consequences this has for PE, Sport and PA. While the disengagement of girls in formal PE has been recognised as a long-standing and on-going challenge, PE remains narrowly conceived and defined, often with negative consequences for the young people involved. Attempts to be inclusive in research practice expose a persistent dominance of the western/global north in knowledge production in sport, PE and PA scholarship and highlight prevailing discourses that impact negatively on engaging with complex issues in different contexts. Empirical research studies inform praxis whereby feminist researchers analyse barriers to participation across a wide range of contexts that are not limited to young people and that extend to policy matters far beyond PE, such as public health and numerous sites of negotiation for access at community level and to a vast array of informal activity. Key themes for researching active bodies include space and alternative contexts; shifting gender boundaries and disrupting binaries; intersections and difference; exclusion and inequalities; healthism and wellbeing agendas. In this chapter, examples including masculinities and dance, parkour and changing gender choices, swimming and transgender, and public health discourse illustrate complexity and contradictions that move debates beyond a ‘women in sport’ focus. The chapter is premised on feminist perspectives of sport and PE; the focus on active bodies enables informed discussion of the body, physicality and movement both theoretically and in relation to praxis.

Item Type:Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords:sport; physical education (PE); physical activity (PA); active bodies; gender binaries; healthism; feminism
Group:Faculty of Health & Social Sciences
ID Code:35421
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:21 Apr 2021 07:47
Last Modified:31 Aug 2023 01:08


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