Tag Archive for interpretative repertoires

From Hard Work to Grit: On the discursive formation of talent

by Magnus Kilger

Vol. 10 2019, pages 29–50
Published April 3, 2019


This article examines the long historical interest for the selection of young talented children in sports. This seemingly everlasting search for talents and the quest for the especially gifted is followed by the practice of trying to find and select the right individuals. This paper elucidates historical representations of talent and talent selection in a series of professional sports literature in Sweden during the 1930s, 1980s, 1990s and 2010s.

Drawing on a discourse analytic approach, it illustrates the historical understanding of selection and how such practices produce formations of legitimacy. The study shows how certain historical elements reoccur in contemporary selection discourse and how specific actions are transformed into personal characteristics. These selection processes construct a rationale for a legitimate selection and illustrate how talent selection is based on historically specific assumptions, normative and moral statements and activities connected to a specific discursive formation. This insight underlines that talent selection cannot be understood as essential skills identified through observation, tests or interviews. It is rather to be understood as a discursive repertoire responding to a specific historical legitimacy.

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About the Author

MAGNUS KILGER holds a doctoral degree in Child and Youth Science, and currently works as a Senior Lecturer in Sport Science, specialized in educational science, at the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences (GIH) in Stockholm. His research deals with organized child and youth sports, focusing on talent selection and youth identity in sporting contexts. His research interests include social interaction and ethnography from a child and youth perspective. His methodological works is primarily within the fields of narrative and discourse analysis.

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.