Archive for Vol. 6, 2015

Searching for Talent: The Construction of Legitimate Selection in Sports

by Magnus Kilger & Mats Börjesson

Vol. 6 2015, pages 85–105
Published October 13, 2015


This article analyzes talent selection within Swedish Sports. Particular attention is paid to the ways in which this process of legitimacy is produced in the case of children and adolescents. The article involves a discourse analytical approach where organizational policy documents, annuals for operation, educational coach literature constitute the corpus of data. The aim is to document how problems of legitimizing talent selection are handled within the organization through the use of different discursive repertoires. The purpose is to deconstruct explicit statements and underlying suppositions through with the current process of selection is legitimized.

The research material allows us access into how the process for talent selection constitutes a significant part of a discursive apparatus of selection. In order to make the process of selection appear neutral, discursive work is played out in order to make the process appear fair and unbiased. Furthermore, this article shows how the production of the legitimate selection works in two directions, both individually and politically. The process of selection is being rhetorically displayed as legitimate to those within the system, as well as a Swedish egalitarian welfare politic at large.

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About the Authors

MAGNUS KILGER is a PhD Candidate at the Department of Child and Youth Studies, Stockholm University. His work deals with talent selection in sports and the construction of legitimacy for selection. His research includes analysis of social interaction and narratives in selection camps for Swedish youth national teams in a number of team sports. He works methodologically within fields such as discourse analysis and narrative analysis.

MATS BÖRJESSON is Professor of Sociology and Child and Youth Studies at Stockholm University. He has carried out research on social categorization and citizenship in a number of welfare contexts, such as forensic psychiatry, the social services and the school – often with an historically comparative design. He works methodologically within fields such as discourse analysis, narrative analysis and rhetoric.

Varför är det tjejer som spelar damfotboll? Om formande, genus och (re-)produktion av ojämställd idrott

by Jesper Fundberg & Lars Lagergren

Vol. 6 2015, pages 65–83
Published September 3, 2015


Can Girls Become Footballers? About formation of gender and (re-)production of inequality

The aim of this article is to discuss the formation of female elite athletes as a gender shaping process through a power perspective. The concepts productive power and biopower together with theories of male hegemony are applied in the analysis. Interviews, observations and surveys were methods employed to collect the empirical material. The processes of selection in an elite soccer club were examined in order to understand how expectations are communicated and filled with meaning, and which words and designations were used by leaders and parents when communicating with the young players. Our data showed that the players received a much clearer response as girls than as soccer players. Neither leaders nor parents saw soccer as a career choice. Put together, this creates a paradox: it’s only the girl who resists and challenges these low expectations by creating her own, that can reach the top level as a professional footballer and not as a girl or woman playing soccer.

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About the Authors

JESPER FUNDBERG is PhD in Ethnology and Associate Professor of Sport Sciences at Malmö University. His research focuses on gender and diversity aspects of sports.

LARS LAGERGREN is PhD in Technology and social change and Associate Professor of Sport Sciences and Leisure Studies. Research interests are adult organisation and governance of youth sports and youth work.

Interpretative repertoires of performance: Shaping gender in swimming

by Karin Grahn

Vol. 6 2015, pages 47–64
Published May 29, 2015


This article deals with the way in which various views of performance are used in talking about youth competitive swimming during adolescence. Making use of interviews with competitive youth swimmers and coaches, the study explores the interpretative repertoires used to discuss performance, and how these repertoires influence gender construction. The analysis of the interview data shows that boys are positioned as performing athletes and girls as stagnating in their athletic progress. These positions are consequencies of the interpretative repertoire of performance as outcome, framing time and personal records as the most central aspect. Since girls are perceived as not breaking personal records, they are also positioned as the ones with deteriorating performances during adolescence. Alternative interpretative repertoires discovered in the interviews are performance as a process and as doing one’s best. These repertoires were less connected to gender and enabled more athletes (both girls and boys) to be viewed by themselves and others as performing athletes.

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About the Author

KARIN GRAHN is a Senior Lecturer of sport science in the Department of Food and Nutrition, and Sport Science at the University of Gothenburg. Karin has a PhD in pedagogics and is currently lecturing in the Sports Coaching programme as well as in teachers education programme for Physical education. Her research interests include child- and youth sports and gender perspective on coaching and educational practices. Karin’s PhD-thesis (2008) explored gender construction in text books used to educate youth coaches in different sports. More recent work has been on sustainable coaching practises, coach-athlete relationships, and gender construction in sport practices.

From exercise to “exertainment”: Body techniques and body philosophies within a differentiated fitness culture

by Jesper Andreasson & Thomas Johansson

Vol. 6 2015, pages 27–45
Published May 13, 2015


This study focuses on two highly influential body techniques used in contemporary gym and fitness culture, namely bodybuilding and group fitness activities. The paper presents detailed self-portraits of two highly esteemed and well-known individuals representing each of these spheres of exercise. Both body techniques have their roots in physical culture. However, whereas bodybuilding goes back to the historical roots of European physical culture developed during the 19th century, Les Mills group fitness activities are a more recent phenomenon, with roots in aerobics and in the fitness culture developed during the 1960s. The case stories are read as both portraits of individuals and histories of two different forms of body techniques and philosophies of the body, and the analysis suggests that the narratives are to be understood in relation to historical changes in how society is organised and what this implies in terms of national and global demands for specific bodies.

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About the Authors

JESPER ANDREASSON is Associate Professor of sport science at Linnaeus University and has a PhD in Sociology. He has written mainly in the fields of gender studies and the sociology of sport. Andreasson’s doctoral dissertation, The Gender of Sports from 2007 (Swedish), focuses on how gender, the body and sexuality are constructed within Swedish team sports. His more recent work is found within the field of gym and fitness cultures, gender, bodybuilding and doping. He has a qualitative and ethnographic approach in his research and has published a number of scientific articles within these fields, and recently the book The Global Gym. Gender, Health and Pedagogies (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014, with Thomas Johansson). He is program co-ordinator for a 180 credits candidate program within sport science and teaches at graduate and postgraduate levels, mainly in research methods and social science theory.

THOMAS JOHANSSON is Professor of Education at the Department of Education, Communication and Learning, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. He has written extensively in the field of gender studies, the sociology of the family, and youth research. His recent books include The Transformation of Sexuality (Ashgate 2007) and Young Migrants (Palgrave 2011, with Katrine Fangen and Nils Hammarén). Johansson has published articles on gender, ethnicity, and identity in journals such as Men and MasculinitiesEthnicityActa SociologicaJournal of Family CommunicationYoungJournal of Men’s Studies, and Journal of Youth Studies.

Player Migration and Talent Development in Elite Sports Teams: A comparative analysis of inbound and outbound career trajectories in Danish and Norwegian women’s handball

by Sine Agergaard & Lars Tore Ronglan

Vol. 6 2015, pages 1–26
Published April 28, 2015


The conditions for national sport systems and talent development efforts are changing with the globalisation of sports. In the present study we explored the relationship between domestic talent development and the immigration of players from abroad through a comparative multiple-case study of Danish and Norwegian women’s handball. Quantitative data demonstrated how there has been a remarkable increase in not only the number, but also the performance level of immigrant players arriving into Danish women’s handball, in particular, in the first decade of the 2000s. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 12 experienced coaches and sport directors who have in-depth knowledge of group dynamics in elite handball. Using Lave and Wenger’s theory of situated learning in communities of practice the analysis demonstrated the ambiguous consequences of considerable immigration on the position and learning situation of domestic talent. Inbound trajectories of domestic talent may be supported by apprenticeship from many skilled role models (e.g. immigrant players), while an outbound trajectory may also appear, specifically if the young domestic players are continually hampered from participation in matches. It seems that it is not the high number of players from abroad, per se, that may block the development of local young talent, but first and foremost the structuring of training and match practices in the clubs and national leagues.

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About the Authors

SINE AGERGAARD is a social anthropologist and Associate Professor at Section for Sport Science at the Department of Public Health, Aarhus University, Denmark. Her research on migration and integration issues within sports has received various research grants, and her work has been published in a number of articles and books. Most recently, Agergaard was the main editor of Women, Soccer and Transnational Migration (Routledge 2014). She is a member of the editorial boards of International Review for the Sociology of Sport and Sportsworld. The Journal of Global Sports. She is the co-founder and currently head of the International Network for Research in Sport and Migration Issues (spomi-net) involving researchers from Europe, the North and South America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific.

LARS TORE RONGLAN is Associate Professor in sport at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences in Oslo, and vice rector at the school. In addition, he holds a position as visiting Associate Professor at Sogn og Fjordane University College. His PhD was a sociological analysis of performance groups in elite sport with a specific focus on Norway’s national handball team for women. The past decade his research interest has been sociocultural studies of sports coaching, talent development, and the Scandinavian sports model. He has published a number of scientific articles, book chapters and books, among them The sociology of sports coaching (Routledge 2011) and Managing elite sport systems (Routledge 2015). Ronglan has been coaching several handball teams over the past 25 years.