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Exposure and effect: An investigation into a culture of body pedagogies

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McMahon, JA (2010) Exposure and effect: An investigation into a culture of body pedagogies. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

This study sought to identify and articulate the exposure and effect of body pedagogies experienced by three former swimmers that participated in the amateur and elite cultural context of Australian swimming. Through the utilisation of ‘relational analysis’ (Kirk, 1999) and by ‘connecting the dots’ (Klein, 2000), investigation into the body pedagogies of three participants articulates two distinctive time frames – the participants as adolescents and some 10–30 years later, the same three participants as adult women enabling a link to be drawn between the exposure and effect of body pedagogies. Across both time frames, cultural transmission and lived bodily experiences are explored and fore grounded. The research utilised narrative ethnography and autoethnography as it provided us [myself and the other two participants] with the appropriate space to reveal our knowing and detail our lived experiences. Four important considerations were integral to this research and to the use of narrative ethnography and autoethnography. The first consideration sought to foreground the swimmers’ voice and the body’s voice in the research. Another consideration was to enable the participants to have what I see as ‘meaningful participation’ in the research, positioning them in a genuine (rather than tokenistic) collaborative relationship with me as the researcher. Consideration was also given to the audience, with the intention that the reader would be able to take on and read from the positions and perspectives of the participants. Finally, I wanted the participants to gain some purpose from their involvement, gaining new insight with the intention of achieving ‘order’ in relation to their swimmer and bodily experiences. A somewhat eclectic body of literature, drawn from various fields in regard to the body, culture, power and control has been utilised as the basis of a framework for understanding the complexities of lived experiences within a sporting culture. The literature review features the work of Foucault (1977) and Evans’ (2004) work on the body together with others (Bain, 1990; Bordo, 1989, vi 1992, 1993, 1997; Garrett, 2004; Jones, Armour & Potrac, 2002; Johns & Johns, 2000; Kirk & Tinning, 1990; Pillow, 1997; Sparkes, 2004) and is designed to orientate the reader to the issues and questions at the heart of the research reported in this thesis. When articulating the exposure of body pedagogies, the adolescent bodily experiences within the cultural context of Australian swimming were organised into two distinctive themes – [bodily] perfection which features in Act one of the thesis and performance which is the focus of Act two. The stories reveal body pedagogies occurring through practices within discourses of performance and perfection during the three participants’ adolescence within the cultural context of Australian swimming. Act three explores the bodily experiences of the same three participants, in the present day as adult women, some 10–30 years after they first were exposed to and engaged with body pedagogies as adolescent women. In this section, the research investigated whether the body pedagogies that the three participants were exposed to as adolescents are still engaged with as adults. It also pursued the discourses underpinning and legitimated by the body pedagogies and examined whether or not those were subsequently challenged. Experiences and effects post-career, in adult lives revealed that the three participants embodied a damaged swimmer identity. It is 10–30 years on that the damaged swimmer identity continues to pervade their adult bodies and selves as they continue to engage in body pedagogies. Prominent threads, tensions and themes were highlighted from the stories including; technocentric ideologies, slim to win ideologies, differential power relationships, self-surveillance, disciplinary power, discourses of performance and perfection relating to the body and performance, and meritocratic ideologies. Findings suggest that there is a definite connection between exposure and effect of a culture and that within the discourses of performance and perfection, a number of social and emotional issues are created which pervade the three participants’ lives in both the short term and long term. The Australian swimming culture as represented in these lived experiences currently produces a ‘brand’ of swimmer formed through ‘pedagogy,’ ‘traditions,’ ‘practices’ and ‘coach education.’ This thesis proposes that the process and specifically body pedagogies involved in forming this ‘brand’ within discourses of performance and perfection, needs to be questioned and adjusted to consider the long term wellbeing of athletes.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: narrative, autoethnography, body pedagogies, performance, perfection, swimming, sport
Additional Information: Copyright © the Author
Date Deposited: 08 May 2011 22:45
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 04:16
URI: http://eprints.utas.edu.au/id/eprint/10763
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