Sex, Gender and the Body in Sport and Leisure: Has There Been a Civilizing Process?

  • Jennifer Hargreaves


This chapter is intended to provide a feminist critique of analyses of sport and leisure which embody the figurational approach of Norbert Elias. This is a difficult task because, throughout the two volumes comprising The Civilizing Process, where Norbert Elias provides a paradigm for sociological analysis he focuses on male experiences, marginalizes females and says very little about gender relations. And, unfortunately, although he wrote a book-length manuscript concerning sexual relations, it was accidentally destroyed and all that is available now is a short, reconstructed version entitled ‘The Changing Balance of Power Between the Sexes’ (1987b). The problem is compounded when we look at writing about sport because Elias, in common with those who use his perspective as a framework for their research, has concentrated on male sports or male bonding surrounding these sports. However, in the collaborative work of Dunning, Murphy and Williams on football and hooliganism (1988; Williams, Dunning and Murphy, 1989), gender relations are considered in this context of male culture, and the exceptional example of a discussion about this issue is Dunning’s chapter, ‘Sport as a Male Preserve: Notes on the Social Sources of Masculine Identity and its Transformations’ in the collection of papers by Elias and Dunning (1986a; also Dunning, 1986).


Physical Violence Gender Relation Figurational Approach Masculine Identity Equal Opportunity Commission 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1992

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  • Jennifer Hargreaves

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