One or Many? A Brief History of Culture and Cultures in the Evolution of “Physical Culture”

in Kinesiology Review

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Mark Dyreson Pennsylvania State University

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At the heart of contemporary kinesiology resides a long history of promoting “physical culture” as a homogenizing and unifying force, linking all of humanity together with a common bond. We routinely prescribe the universal power of physical activity to improve health and well-being across social boundaries and beyond national boundaries. We frame problems and offer solutions that seem to affect all people, in all places, at all times. At the same time, multicultural issues, understood in a broad sense, have captivated students of human movement and shaped the development of the field. The field itself emerged from multiple cultures—academic, intellectual, vocational, and national. The dialectics of culture and the clash of universal and plural perspectives have played an important role in the quest to define the meaning of human movement. Embracing rather than resolving these tensions offers the best strategy for charting creative current and future directions for research and policy in kinesiology.

The author is with the Dept. of Kinesiology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA.

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