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The productive effect of power: (dis)pleasurable bodies materialising in and through the discursive practices of boys’ physical education.
Linnaeus University, Växjö.
Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, GIH, Department of Sport and Health Sciences, Forskningsgruppen för pedagogisk idrottsforskning.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0638-7176
2018 (English)In: Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, ISSN 1740-8989, E-ISSN 1742-5786, Vol. 23, no 1, p. 66-83Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: Pleasure is often a key feature of school physical education (PE) and, indeed, a lot of students find pleasure in and through PE while others do not. However, pleasure is rarely considered to be of educational value in the subject [Pringle, R. (2010). “Finding Pleasure in Physical Education: A Critical Examination of the Educative Value of Positive Movement Affects.”Quest62: 119–134]. Further, since pleasure is linked to power [Foucault, M. (1980).Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972–1977. New York: Pantheon; Gerdin, G., and R. Pringle. (2015). “The Politics of Pleasure: An Ethnographic Examination Exploring the Dominance of the Multi-Activity Sport-Based Physical Education Model.”Sport, Education and Society. doi:10.1080/13573322.2015.1019448] it is in fact not entirely straightforward to legitimise the educational value of PE in relation to pleasure.

Purpose: In this paper, we explore how a group of boys derive pleasures from their involvement in PE, but also how these power-induced pleasures are integral to gender normalisation processes. The findings presented are particularly discussed in terms of inclusive/exclusive pedagogical practices related to gender, bodies and pleasures.

Research setting and participants: The research setting was a single-sex, boys’ secondary school in Auckland, New Zealand. Participants in this study were 60 Year 10 (age 14–15) students from two PE classes.

Data collection and analysis: Using a visual ethnographic approach [Pink, S. (2007).Doing Visual Ethnography. London: Sage] involving observations and video recordings of boys participating in PE, the boys’ representations and interpretations of the visual data were explored during both focus groups and individual interviews. The data were analysed using (a visually oriented) discourse analysis [Foucault, M. (1998). “Foucault.” InMichel Foucault. Aesthetics, Method and Epistemology, edited by J. D. Faubion, 459–463. New York: The New Press; Rose, G. (2007).Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to the Interpretation of Visual Materials. London: Sage].

Findings: By elucidating the discursive practices of PE in this setting and employing (Butler, J. (1993).Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of ‘Sex’. New York: Routledge] concept of ‘materialisation’, we suggest that boy’s bodies materialise as productive and pleasurable or displeasurable bodies through submitting/subjecting to certain bodily regimes, developing embodied mastery when it comes to certain sports, and displaying bodies in particular ways. The analysis indicate that the discursive practices of PE contribute to boys’ bodies materialising as pleasurable or displeasurable and the (re)production of gender in the subject as shaped by discourse and the productive effect of power.

Discussion and conclusions: In line with [Gard, M. (2008). “When a Boy’s Gotta Dance: New Masculinities, Old Pleasures.”Sport, Education and Society13 (2): 181–193], we conclude that the focus on certain discursively constructed bodily practices at the same time continues to restrict the production of a diversity of bodily movement pleasures. Hence, traditional gender patterns are reproduced through a selection of particular sports/physical activities that all the students are expected to participate in. We propose that the ongoing constitution of privileged forms of masculinity, masculine bodies and masculine pleasures as related to fitness, health and sport and (certain) boys’ subsequent exercise of power in PE needs further critical examination. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. Vol. 23, no 1, p. 66-83
National Category
Sport and Fitness Sciences Sociology
Research subject
Social Sciences/Humanities
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:gih:diva-5120DOI: 10.1080/17408989.2017.1294669ISI: 000417612800005OAI: oai:DiVA.org:gih-5120DiVA, id: diva2:1164057
Available from: 2017-12-08 Created: 2017-12-08 Last updated: 2017-12-21Bibliographically approved

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