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Chapter Boyhood, Organized Sports, and the Construction of Masculinities

SOCC38H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter Boyhood, Organized Sports, and the Construction of Masculinities: Homosociality, Role Theory, Elective Affinities

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Ann Mullen
Boyhood, Organized Sports, and the Construction of Masculinities

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Boyhood, Organized Sports, and the Construction of Masculinities
Rapid expansion of feminist scholarship led to fundamental reconceptualization of the historical and
contemporary meanings of organized sport
Creation of organized sport as homosocial sphere in which competition and physicality was valued,
while "the feminine" devalued
Organized sport has served to bolster a sagging ideology of male superiority, and has helped to
reconstitute masculine hegemony
Feminist theories of social construction of gender to explore relationship between construction of
masculine identity and boyhood participation in organized sports
Gender Identity and Sports: Theoretical Frameworks
1970s. Sex role theory. Boys "blank slates" who came to athletic experiences to be socialized into
"male roles".
Psychoanalytical theory. Role theory had inadvertently simplified complexities of gender. Early
developmental differences, grounded in social structure of mothering, created deeply rooted
differences between women and men.
Internalized gender identity differences, males posited to develop more "positional identifies (with
fears of intimacy), whereas females develop more "relational" identities (with fears of separation)
o Categorical differences between sexes, and basis for differences identified as boys' and girls'
differential experience of separation and attachment from mother
Ignores way gender identity social constructed by gendered power relations built into social
institutions. Reify categorical differences between sexes, and then explain these differences through
reductionist reference to causal "core gender identity"
Social structure all but disappear within framework
Social constructionist theory of gender. Relationship between structure and personality is best
viewed as "elective affinity". More accurate to view personality as "tapestry" constantly under
construction, with gender identity conceptualized as a "thread", separation-unity dynamic, that runs
through entire tapestry
"pieces" added and arranged are shaped by thread. Woven, moved, stretched, rewoven, as new
pieces of tapestry added. Process of construction that develops, comes into crisis, and changes as
person interacts with social world. "Gendering identities"
Self-construction not fully conscious process. Shaped and constructed through interaction between
internal and social. Internal gendering identity may set developmental "tasks" may create thresholds
of anxiety and ambivalence, yet it is only through concrete examination of peoples interactions with
others within social institutions that we can begin to understand both similarities and differences in
construction of gender
Description of Research
Interviews with male former athletes
At some time in their lives based identities largely on roles as athletes and could therefore be said to
have had "athletic careers"
Boyhood and the Promise of Sports
All boys are, to a greater or lesser extent, judged according to their ability, or lack of ability, in
competitive sports
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