Pierre Bourdieu’s “Masculine Domination” Thesis and the Gendered Body in Sport and Physical Culture

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David Brown University of Exeter

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This paper explores the central thesis of one of Pierre Bourdieu’s last texts before his death in 2001, La Domination Masculine (1999). This text was subsequently translated and published in English in 2001 as Masculine Domination. I present the view that this text is not merely his only sustained commentary on gender relations but a potentially important intellectual contribution to the way in which we might view the embodiment of gender relations in sport and physical culture. Accordingly, I examine Bourdieu’s relational thesis of masculine domination as a three-part process of observation, somatization, and naturalization. I then give consideration to how sociologists of sport might use such critical analytical tools to render more transparent what Bourdieu refers to as the “illusio” of this phenomenon that is constructed by the practical everyday embodied enactments of gender relations in sport and physical culture.

The author is with the Qualitative Research Unit in the School of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Exeter, St. Lukes Campus, Exeter, Devon, UK, EX1 2LU.

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