Sport and Gender Relations

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Modern sports appear to have a historically variable relative autonomy; that is to say,what happens in sport can be explained by looking at the changing balances of powerbetween the groups involved in sports, the integration of sports in wider social figurationssuch as national societies, and the stage of development of wider social totalities. Using thefigurational sociological perspective, this essay uses Eric Dunning’s work on sport andgender (since the 1960s) to investigate further aspects of: (i) the position of differentsporting disciplines in the overall status hierarchy of sports in Ireland; (ii) particularfemale athletes’ positions within these sports; (iii) the consequences of social relations forthe self-conceptions of masculine and feminine habituses; and (iv), the ways in whichchanges in the self-images and social make-up of male and female athletes in Ireland(as elsewhere) go hand in hand with changes in the social structure of gender relationsmore generally. The essay, therefore, is an attempt to outline and summarize the relevanceof Dunning’s work to our understanding of aspects of the sport-gender nexus in Westernsocieties and, secondly, makes a (modest) contribution towards ‘a sociology of sport in theRepublic of Ireland’.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMatters of Sport: Essays in Honour of Eric Dunning
ISBN (Print)978-0-7146-8282-2
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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