Manufacturing consent or playing the game : an analysis of gender power relations in two sport related organisations
- Publisher: Northumbria University
The goal of this study is to examine the dynamics under-pinning the reproduction or transformation of gender power relations within two sport organisations. Across society we have images of women making ground and experiencing far greater prospects than ever before. Yet, on the other hand, this is bound up with continuous examples of little progress in work. For instance, while there are more opportunities for women across work than at any other point in the 20th Century, they continue to be segregated from men in a large number of jobs. Similar gendered patterns of progress are reflected in sport. There are now far more female participants in sport, however they remain concentrated in 'appropriate' sports which reflect historical images of femininity. Broadly, sport and work also dictate stereotypical images for male participants. While broad levels of change are occurring across society, central to this thesis is whether dominant patterns of gender relations are transformed or reproduced at the micro level of sport- related work. Critically sport organisations are selected because sport's history continues to demonstrate patterns of male dominance. Secondly, the growth of sport provision has occurred in a service area, an arena traditionally dominated by women workers. Finally, sport is one of the few sectors which traverses both the public and private industries, providing the basis for a comparative study. Therefore, employment within sport provides an opportunity to examine the ways in which gender power relations are challenged or reproduced when two diverse sets of relations meet. The theoretical framework draws heavily from feminist theory, particularly radical, socialist feminist and post-structuralism. A qualitative research strategy provides the framework for a comparative case study methodology. Seventy-five interviews were conducted across the two case study organisations, which are located in the North. Past Times is a contracted out leisure centre and Sporting Goods a privately owned sports clothing and equipment firm. Both companies are in the service industry but come from two diverse backgrounds. Sporting Goods developed from a manufacturing heritage and Past Times is breaking away from direct local authority control as a result of CCT. At the time of the research both establishments were experiencing high levels of organisational change. While Past Times breaks with tradition in having a female manager and Sporting Goods contrasts with a traditional management structure, hegemonic masculinity dominated across both organisations. Overall gender power relations were reproduced through day-to-day practices that appeal to, and perpetuate, common sense understandings of men and women's roles at work. The sport environment provided a critical site for the strengthening of homosocial relationships among men and enabled the identification of three interacting components of gender: bodies, identities and sexualities. These components together contribute to the ongoing construction of a logic of difference which is more highly defined in the sport environment.
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