This paper will introduce readers to the field of sports in theRepublic of Ireland with specific reference to changing power relationsbetween the sexes. It will situate a present-day social phenomenon, that is,Irish females’ increasing involvement in what are seen traditionally as maleassociatedsports such as Gaelic football, rugby and soccer, within the contextof social processes in which more or less independent groups of people(that is, male and female sportspeople) are becoming more interdependent.Qualitative data including 12 in-depth interviews with high performance(elite) female athletes (conducted between 1999 and 2002), three in-depthinterviews with leading Irish sports officials (1999–2003) and participantobservation notes (from the author’s involvement in the field of sports sincethe early 1990s) will be used to examine aspects of the sport–gender nexusin Ireland. These will be situated within a sociological analysis of the emergenceand development of sports for women since the 1970s, and they willbe used to argue that the relatively slight shift in the balance of power infavour of females since the 1970s has led to feelings of emancipation amongstfemales and resistance amongst males, though this resistance is graduallybecoming weaker. Elias’s theory of ‘established–outsider’ relations will beapplied to suggest that females who participate in sports such as rugby,soccer and Gaelic football to a lesser extent, can be described as an ‘outsider’group, that is, as one that has lacked the organisational resources and networksof mutual assistance to significantly shift the uneven balance of powerbetween the sexes. Moreover, typical of outsiders in their relations with theestablished, dominant stereotypical views of females remain embedded inthe personality structures of ‘outsiders’.
|Journal||Irish Journal of Sociology|
|Publication status||Published - 17 Mar 2005|