Negotiating Identities through Disability Sport

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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  • 1 University of Bedfordshire
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The purpose of this study was to explore the multiplicity and complexity of identity construction for elite disabled athletes within the arena of disability sport. This involved in-depth semistructured interviews that explored the experiences of 21 British and Taiwanese elite disabled athletes from the sports of powerlifting and track and field. The results indicate that both societal perceptions based in the medical model of disability and the participants’ impaired bodies play a key role in their identity formation and sense of self-worth. The study also highlights the role that success in international disability sport can have by offering potential for positive subjectivity, a changed self-understanding, and an increased sense of personal empowerment. Finally, the notion of multiple identities also appears to be supported by the research participants’ narratives.

Huang is a lecturer in Leisure & Tourism at the University of Bedfordshire, UK; Brittain is a postdoctoral researcher in Olympic & Paralympic Studies at the University of Bedfordshire, UK.

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