Recently, national studies have reported on young people’s low level of participation in physical activity. Because the effect of gender and racial differences among youth participating in physical activity have not been sufficiently addressed, examining the social construction of the body in physical education can provide valuable insights. This study uses poststructuralism as a lens to investigate how students’ construction of meanings around the body varied by gender and race, and how bodily meanings related to students’ participation in physical education classes. The participants were 528 students from public high schools. An instrument was used to assess students’ racial and gendered construction of bodily meanings around specific discursive constructs. Results indicated that students’ meanings differ by race and gender, especially in regard to size, power, muscularity, and appearance. These findings suggest that bodily meanings were influential in students’ self-reported levels of participation in physical education classes.
Azzarito is with the University of Vermont, Dept. of Education, Professional Physical Education, 216 Patrick Gymnasium, 97 Spear Street, Burlington, Vermont 05405; Solmon is with Department of Kinesiology, Louisianna State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803-7101.