You'll be a man if you play rugby : an examination of the role of sport in the social construction of gender.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Education
This research project, a case-study of the organised sports programme of an urban New Zealand secondary school, uses a feminist theoretical framework to examine how sport operates as a mechanism for gender replication. Placing the experiences of a group of students at the centre of the research, I present an analysis to show that the sports programme is a strategic site for the development of student subjectivities. I employ a feminist theory of gender identity to argue that we have no essential sense of self, that our ideas of femininity and masculinity do not derive from nature but instead develop tlu'ough the discourses we encounter. I examine how the students actively construct meanings of thentselves through the discourses surrounding their participation in sports. I explore the hierarchy or gender order present and how the students position themselves within it. The contribution that wider societal influences, such as the media, make to this process is included in the analysis. I conclude that the institution of sport is a complex, contradictory site full of tension and ambiguity and that, as agents of our own subjectivities, there is the potential, in part through the insights outlined here, to resist and/ or disrupt the discourses encountered and thereby challenge the dominant hegemonic masculinity.