Vol. 12 2021, pages 135–157
Published October 6, 2021
Physical education and sport in Norway – overlapping but distinctive fields
Organized and voluntary sport and the school subject physical education have historically been tightly interwoven in Norway. In this study, organized and voluntary sport and physical education are considered as two fields as described by Bourdieu, in the search for answering the research question: How can physical education and sport be understood as overlapping and distinctive fields? In order to answer the question, we analysed the two last steering documents in each field; the curriculum in physical education from 2015 and 2020, and the sport policy documents of 2015 and 2019 (the latter referred to as a long-term plan) from The Norwegian Confederation of Sports.
The two main findings of the analysis are, first, that the historical relationship where sport is the dominant part is still identifiable in the contemporary steering documents. The overlaps between the fields can be explained by several and interdependent causes: one is that many of the same actors operate in both fields – sports people are physical education teachers and physical education teacher educators; moreover, the establishment of the physical education field was initiated by powerful people in the sport field. In that respect, it has been a mode of doxa that physical education to a large degree has resembled sport. However, second, we identified an emancipation process in the field of physical education; there are formulations in the steering documents supported by other research, indicating heterodoxic discussions within the physical education field, leading to change. All in all, we identified two fields with various levels of maturity.
About the Authors
EIVIND Å. SKILLE is Professor of Sport Sociology with the Section for sports and physical education, Department of public health and sport sciences, Faculty of social and health sciences, Inland Norway university of applied sciences. Skille teaches and researches in sport policy and politics, sport organization and organizing, and sports participation. He serves on the advisory board of the International Sociology of Sport Association, the Editorial boards of International Review for the Sociology of Sport and the International Journal of Sports Policy and Politics. Recently, he has focused his research into Sámi (an Indigenous people of the North Calotte) sports, and the national culture of Norwegian elite sports.
KJERSTI MORDAL MOEN is Professor in Physical Education at the Section for sports and physical education, Department of public health and sport sciences, Faculty of social and health sciences, Inland Norway university of applied sciences (INN). Moen teaches at the Physical Education Teacher Education programme (PETE), and do research in the field of PETE and PE. She is leading the research group «Teaching and Learning in Physical Education” at INN, and she serves on the Editorial board in Journal for research in arts and sports education.