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

In Swedish

Daniel Alsarve, Johan Jakobsson & Jens Helgesson
Linnaeus University, Växjö, Sweden


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.

Get the full-text article in Swedish at Scandinavian Sport Studies Forum!

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.

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