Tag Archive for gender

Factors underlying competitive success in youth football: A study of the Swedish national U15 football talent system

by Tor Söderström, Peter BrusvikStefan Lund

Vol. 10 2019, pages 139–162
Published September 9, 2019


This study of Sweden’s 24 football districts analyses whether contextual factors (number of players, number of elite teams, and number of elite players on each district team) influence the district teams’ relative age effect (RAE) and the way in which contextual factors and RAE correlate with the U15 teams’ competitive success. The analysis is based on register data on district players (4,516 girls and 4,501 boys, all 15 years old) who attended an annual elite football camp: birthdate, the total number of players aged 15, club membership, senior elite clubs, proportion of elite players on the district teams, and match outcomes. Based on the birthdates of the players born between 1986 and 1997, a relative age index was constructed for each district. The results showed a relative age effect (RAE) for the selected district players (boys and girls) compared to the general 15-year-old football population; however, birthdate only affected the competitive success of the boys’ district teams. The analysis points out that contextual factors such as the number of football players and the presence of elite clubs are important to consider in order to understand how RAE is produced and its relationship to the success of winning matches for boys’ district teams.

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About the Authors

TOR SÖDERSTRÖM is a Professor in Education at Umeå University.  His research concerns learning and development in higher education and sport, with a particular interest in the development of professional knowledge and skills. Current projects focuses on talent identification and talent development in sports. Over the years, he has contributed with book-chapters and journal articles related to these fields.

PETER BRUSVIK is a PhD student in the Department of Education. Umeå University, Sweden. His research interest focuses on drop-out and continuation processes in sports, particularly football.

STEFAN LUND is an Associate Professor in the Department of of Education and Teachers’ Practice at Linnaeus University, Sweden. His research interests include educational policy, school choice, school culture, multicultural incorporation, and sociology of sports. He has, for example, published School Choice, Ethnic Divisions and Symbolic Boundaries (2015) and articles in the Journal of Education Policy, Sociology of Sport Journal, and Sport, Education and Society.

Student-athletes’ beliefs about athletic ability: A longitudinal and mixed method gender study

by Joakim Ingrell, Marie Larneby, Urban Johnson
& Susanna Hedenborg

Vol. 10 2019, pages 117–138
Published June 10, 2019


The overall aim of this paper is to study and discuss student-athletes’ beliefs about athletic ability. Specifically, the aim is to analyze and problematize athletic ability longitudinally and with a gender perspective as it is perceived, discussed, and valued by student-athletes. A three-year and six-wave study was conducted on 78 student-athletes (30 females and 48 males; Mage at T1 = 12.7, SD = 0.44) attending a compulsory school with a sport profile. Additionally, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 27 of the student-athletes (16 female and 11 male) during their second and third school year. Based on a parallel mixed-data analysis with cross-talks and meta-inferences, the two main results of this study are as follows: (1) entity beliefs increase and incremental beliefs decrease during the three-year period, and (2) gender add a further understanding of the student-athletes’ beliefs about athletic ability. 

The findings are discussed in terms of their implications for the potential influence of the socialization processes on beliefs of athletic ability, and suggestions for future research are provided.

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JOAKIM INGRELL is currently a PhD student at the department of sport sciences, at Malmö University, Sweden. His main research interests are: motivation, motivational climate, youth sport and competitive sport.

MARIE LARNEBY is currently a PhD student at the department of sport sciences, at Malmö University, Sweden. Larneby’s main research interests are youth sport and physical activity in school and during leisure time. Her ongoing PhD-project has a gender theoretical perspective.

URBAN JOHNSON is a Professor of psychology and sport at the center of research on welfare, health and sport, at Halmstad University, Sweden. He has foremost focused on studying psychosocial risk factors during rehabilitation of long-term injured competitive athletes. Significant keywords in his research are: intervention, prevention, psychosocial risk factors, rehabilitation, coaches and competitive sport.

SUSANNA HEDENBORG is a professor in Sport Science, Malmö University. Hedenborg has an academic background in social and economic history. In her sport research she has focused on childhood and youth studies, gender, and equestrian sports. She is the author of numerous articles and text books in sport science. Hedenborg is affiliated to the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences and president of the Swedish Research Council for Sport Science.

Marketing the Perfect Ride: A Study of the Marketing of Horse Tourism on the Internet

by Aage RadmannSusanna Hedenborg

Vol. 10 2019, pages 1–27
Published February 25, 2019


The aim of this article is to chart and analyze Internet marketing of sport and leisure tourism, with a special focus on horse-riding tourism. The article will spotlight marketing directed to the physically active tourist, that is, tourists travelling to destinations to participate in a physical activity (i.e. not spectators). Previous research has demonstrated that increased interest in sport tourism has rendered effective marketing essential for travel companies. Yet, despite growing interest in sport tourism in general and horse tourism in particular, studies of the marketing of horse tourism are scarce. The source material for the present article consists of the websites of three different horse travel agencies. The analysis is based on both quantitative and qualitative data. Firstly, we mapped out all trips offered (offers N=559) in relation to continents, countries, and types. Secondly, we performed a content analysis of pictures (pictures N=110) and texts promoting trips to Spain (offers N=9). Our findings indicate that the travel agencies focus their marketing on Southern Europe, and particularly Spain. Trail rides are the most frequently recurring trips offered. The marketing builds on story-telling related to trust; (implied) common experiences of organizer and tourist in relation to horses and horsemanship; and natural and cultural landscapes. In contrast to the representation of women in other sport contexts, women in horse tourism are portrayed as active participants in a challenging athletic activity. The representation is, however, complex. Firstly, true horsemanship is represented as masculine. Secondly, the representation of women as strong and active in the marketing of horse tourism may be interpreted as part of the ‘girl power’ discourse connected to neoliberal constructions of the female body. Thirdly, horses are also clearly important in the marketing. Although this observation may seem redundant, it nonetheless highlights the importance of animals as workers in sport tourism.

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AAGE RADMANN is an Associate Professor and Head of Department of Physical Education and Outdoor Studies at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences. His research area is within the sociology of sport with special interest in sport media, sport and gender, sport and violence, and sport tourism. His articles have appeared in a range of scholarly journals and he has written two books about football culture and hooliganism for an audience outside academia. He has contributed to two Swedish national reports focusing on sport and violence. Since 2015, Radmann is engaged in a research project on Female Fans funded by Swedish Research Council for Sport Sciences. In 2018 he received funding with Susanna Hedenborg for the research project Stable Cultures in Cyberspace.

SUSANNA HEDENBORG is a professor in Sport Science, Malmö University. Hedenborg has an academic background in social and economic history. In her sport research she has focused on childhood and youth studies, gender, and equestrian sports. She is the author of numerous articles and text books in sport science. Hedenborg is affiliated to the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences and president of the Swedish Research Council for Sport Science.

Idrottsundervisning och maskulinitetens hegemoni: Genus och inflytande i gymnasie­skolans ämne ”Idrott och hälsa”

by Daniel Alsarve, Johan Jakobsson & Jens Helgesson

Vol. 8 2017, pages 197–219
Published December 11, 2017


Sports Education and the Hegemony of Masculinity: Gender and Influence in Swedish Upper Secondary School Physical Education

The Swedish upper secondary school and its physical education (PE) should, according to the Lgy11 (the 2011 curriculum of upper secondary school in Sweden), raise awareness about and challenge stereotypes of masculinity and femininity. Previous research, however, has concluded that there is an upholding of traditional, hegemonic masculinity ideals through PE. The purpose of this article is to highlight how gender and power influence the outcome of a just education. Theoretical inspiration is taken from Irish Marion Young’s and Raewyn Connell’s work on gender and hegemonic masculinity, and the method involves interviews with PE teachers and observations of PE classes. Dance, ball games, competition, socializing violence, performance of heterosexual norms are identified as key points, which are discussed in terms of norms and power linked to men and masculinity ideals. The results show that the making of masculinity is constantly occurring in PE, both in active elements but also during “inactive” breaks. Although strong ideals linked to men and masculinity were identified, there were usually also alternative representations. In other words, the educational gender practices were not identified as unambiguous, but rather as ambiguous and contradictory. However, most respondents showed decided views on how boys and girls naturally “are” in certain ways, which conditions a counter-stereotypical approach to education.

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About the Authors

DANIEL ALSARVE has a BA in Swedish and History and a PhD in History. He is currently working as a part time lecturer in pedadgoy at the University of Örebro. He is a member of the research group ”Critical Studies on Men and Masculinities”, Örebro university.

JOHAN JAKOBSSON has a BA in Physical Education and History. He is currently working as an intermediate and a senior level PE and Social Science teacher in Norrköping.

JENS HELGESSON has a BA in Physical Education and History, and iscurrently working as a senior level teacher in Norrköping.

Genusrelationer i samtränad fotboll: Gränser och utmaningar i ett Idrottslyftsprojekt

by Karin Grahn

Vol. 8 2017, pages 113–138
Published November 6, 2017


Gender relations in co-ed soccer: Border work and challenges in a secondary school project

Idrottslyftet (“a boost for sport”) is a Swedish government-financed sports initiative aiming to activate more young people through sports. One way to achieve this aim is through cooperation between school and sport clubs, whereby a sport coach runs sport activities during the school day. The goal of this article is to analyze how gender relations are shaped, reproduced, or challenged through practices within a co-ed soccer project. An ethnographic field study was conducted in two elementary school classes. The result draws on participant observations of interactions between coach and children, and between the children themselves, and is analyzed through critical discourse analysis and theories of gender relations. A focal point of the analysis is how gender relations are shaped by the use of language (including body language). The result suggests that children are active in shaping and challenging boundaries between girls and boys; however, the structure of the football lesson as well as the coach’s actions and non-actions are also important in shaping gender relations. To enable equality in co-ed sport projects, coaches should be aware of their actions and how they may affect the children that they are teaching, and should also attend to the children’s own gender boundary setting.

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About the Author

KARIN GRAHN is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Food and Nutrition, and Sport Science, University of Gothenburg. She works within the Sports Coaching program, teaching sociological and pedagogical perspectives on sport and sports coaching. She researches youth sports within a gender perspective, such as analyses of sport coaching textbooks, coaching and gender relations in co-educated sports, and body ideals among competitive athletes. Karin works with diverse qualitative methods mainly within a discourse analytical framework.

Norwegian Elite-Level Coaches: Who Are They?

by Kari FastingMari Kristin SisjordTrond Svela Sand

Vol. 8 2017, pages 29-47
Published April 18, 2017


Previous studies have shown that there is an underrepresentation of female coaches and a lack of opportunities for women to coach males, particularly at the elite-level. Very few studies, however, have focused on elite-level coaches’ demographics and whether these vary with respect to gender. The aim of this article is to get an overview of the gender distribution of Norwegian national team coaches with respect to different demographic variables, such as age, education and marital status. Furthermore, athletic background, coach education and coaching experience are examined. The results are based on data from an online survey among coaches who in 2012 worked as national team coaches (n=197). The main result is that the female and male coaches seem to be very similar, which is in contrast to the majority of previous research among elite-level female coaches. Another contradiction to previous studies, which mostly consist of qualitative research, is that the present quantitative study is based on a sample of national team coaches from all sports in Norway. Only 14% of the elite-level coaches are women. The explanation for this underrepresentation is discussed with respect to structural barriers that may be particularly relevant for elite-level coaching: sex-typing, stereotyping and homologous reproduction.

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About the Authors

KARI FASTING is a professor emerita at the Department for social and cultural studies at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences (NSSS) in Oslo, where she served as the chancellor from 1989 to 1993. She is past president and honorary member of the International Sociology of Sport Association, and a founding member and president of Women’s Sport International (WSI). Her research has been concerned with various aspects related to equality and diversity in sport, with a focus on sexual harassment and abuse.

MARI KRISTIN SISJORD is a professor at the Department for social and cultural studies at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences (NSSS) in Oslo. She teaches sport sociology and her research has focused primarily on youth sports, lifestyle sports, gender issues in sport, and sport and media. She has served two periods (1996-2003) on the board of the International Sociology of Sport Association, the latter period as Vice President.

TROND SVELA SAND is a sport sociologist, and works as an independent researcher. For the work on the current paper he has been affiliated with the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences. He has broad experiences with research with a gender perspective and has among others worked with subjects such as coaching, leadership, and sexual harassment and abuse in sport. Other fields of experience are volunteering in sport, masculinities, and gender issues in the military.

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.

Between Performance and Beauty: Towards a sociological understanding of trajectories to drug use in a gym and bodybuildning context

by Jesper Andreasson

Vol. 4 2013, pages 69–90
Published May 22, 2013


Emanating from an ethnographic study of Swedish bodybuilders, this article aims to present a sociological understanding of various circumstances influencing the decision to begin taking performance-enhancing drugs. Theoretically, the research builds upon a constructionist approach, in which actors’ identity claims, the way they describe themselves and their group affiliation, are understood both as individual stories of identity construction and as discursive statements. The result shows that the willingness to perform, to focus on the body’s function, is a paradigmatic narrative being expressed throughout. As such, this performance oriented lifestyle can be related to traditional values saluted within organised sports and also understood as a fairly stable part of a hegemonic masculine construction. However, the results also show how the performance logic is entwined with a strong zest for bodily aesthetics. In the article, this cultural ambiguity is used as an analytical window through which one can see how different understandings of gender, health and doping continuously are socially negotiated in relation to contemporary fitness culture and public health organisations in Swedish society. By analysing doping trajectories in this way the article suggests that drug using practises could be understood as an activity performed along a continuum of cultural and societal (over-)conformity, rather than actions representing societal abnormality.

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JESPER ANDREASSON is associate professor of sport science at Linnaeus University and has a PhD in Sociology. He has written mainly in the field 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/fitness culture, gender, bodybuilding and doping. He has a qualitative and ethnographic approach in his research and is currently working on a book-project focusing gender, health and pedagogies within gym and fitness culture.

Using Court Reports to Enhance Knowledge of Sexual Abluse in Sport

by K. Fasting, C. Brackenridge & G. Kjølberg

Vol. 4 2013, pages 49–67
Published May 7, 2013


Sport scientists face difficulties in gaining access to data on sexual abuse in sport through conventional research sources and also in verifying media reports of such cases. One potential alternative source of data is court reports. The study reported here used a small number of court reports to examine issues confronting those researching sexual abuse in sport. Two questions were investigated: What do the court reports tell us about the perpetrators and their abuse strategies? How useful is content analysis of court reports for acquiring more knowledge about sexual abuse cases in sport? Data were drawn from electronic searches of the Norwegian Lovdata (Lawdata) website. 15 sport-based cases were revealed by the searches and then subjected to content analysis, both within- and cross-case. The findings confirm previous studies in relation to the perpetrator strategies and the absence of any perpetrator stereotype. The article concludes that court reports provide one valuable, yet still incomplete, source of information against which to test our understanding of sexual abuse in sport and develop abuse prevention measure.

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About the Authors

KARI FASTING is professor at the Department of Social and Cultural Studies, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences. She became the first elected chair of this institution and served as the rector from 1989 to 1993. She is past president of the International Sociology of Sport Association and of Women’s Sport International. She has published widely on different aspects related to women, exercise and sport. Though her focus of research over the last years has been on sexual harassment and abuse in sport, she is now working on a project concerning Gender and the Top-Level coaching role.

CELIA BRACKENRIDGE is a Professorial Research Fellow in the Centre for Sport Health and Welfare at Brunel University in West London. She has been an honorary visiting professor in Germany (the Deutsche Sporthochschule, Cologne), the USA (Smith College, Massachussetts) and the UK (the Centre for Applied Childhood Studies at Huddersfield University). Her main research interests are gender equity, abuse prevention and athlete welfare.

GUSTAV KJØLBERG holds a master degree in sociology of sport from the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences. He is a former semi-professional football player, but works today as a teacher in a secondary school, teaching physical education and health.