Achieving Against the Odds: Gender, Chance and Contradiction in the Horseracing Industry

in Sociology of Sport Journal

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Deborah Ann ButlerUniversity of Hull

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In this paper I ask how it is that women, despite being a significant part of the workforce in horseracing, are still only a minority of professional jockeys. I explore the relationship between social practices and the gender based inequalities and use Bourdieu’s concepts of field, capital and habitus to analyze its classed and gendered nature. I draw on an ethnographic study of a racing yard, focusing particularly on the experiences of Anne Dudley, one of my female interviewees, who, unusually, had ridden as a jockey. She typifies the ways in which women’s career trajectories within the racing field are shaped by access to physical and social capital. I argue that habitus can be used to illustrate how redirection(s) in practices or ideas are brought about within a patriarchal, masculine field of power.

Butler is with the University of Hull, Hull, United Kingdom.

Address author correspondence to Deborah Butler at
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