How equal is handball?

In Swedish

Karna Åkesson
Human Rights Studies, Lund University

The purpose of this study has been to investigate gendered societal norms concerning media portrayals of men and women’s handball in Sweden. To achieve this, both a qualitative and quantitative content analysis have been applied on 56 articles from two of Skåne’s most-read newspapers, Sydsvenskan and Skånska Dagbladet, with the focus centered on Lugi’s men’s and women’s teams. The material has been analyzed using Iris Marion Young’s theory uf cultural imperialism, which centers around the question of who benefits from whom in society. Additionally, the concept of body comportment has been applied, which implies that the female body is limited in expression, motility, and spatiality, where Young suggests that women view themselves as being limited by boundaries that cannot be crossed.

The results show that the men’s team receives more attention in the newspapers, as seen both in the number of articles per match as well as the length of these articles. Pictures that complement the articles demonstrate body comportment where the male players are portrayed high up, in the air, and the female players on the ground. Through the coaches’ and players’ statements, as well as the journalists’ narratives, the male team is portrayed as high performing individualistic players. This is in stark contrast to the portrayal of female players, where the female team’s coach is asked to express himself about the performance of the team, more so than the players themselves, and a dependency on a masculine figure is shown.

In comparison to the male players, the female players instead voice a humbleness and praise the efforts of the team rather than the individual performances. The conclusion of the study suggests that women are culturally dominated by men since the female players do not get the same media coverage as the male players, nor are portrayed in the same elaborated sense.

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KARNA ÅKESSON has a bachelor’s degree in Human Rights from Lund University. Karna has experiences in coaching handball, and a big interest in sports equality. She is currently studying sports psychology at Malmö Universitet, alongside her daily job.

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