Foucault in Leotards: Corporeal Discipline in Women’s Artistic Gymnastics

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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Women’s artistic gymnastics is an Olympic sport that involves intricate acrobatic and rhythmic activities. This kinesthetic proficiency demands muscular strength and courage, which have been argued to serve its athletes as a source of empowerment.

Various scholars question the positive effects of sport participation. This article builds on these doubts through a feminist Foucauldian study of WAG. An essayistic research story, compiled from data gained in an ethnographic study, serves as the basis for our analyses. The results demonstrate the complexity of WAG experiences and illustrate that gymnasts’ athletic proficiency is only possible through an extensive and elaborate process of corporeal discipline.

Barker-Ruchti is with the University of Basel—Institute of Exercise and Health Sciences, Basel, Switzerland. Tinning is with the University of Queensland—School of Human Movement Studies, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, and the School of Critical Studies in Education—University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.

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