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Geneviève Rail

This paper suggests the usefulness of a general theoretical framework based on the model of strategic analysis elaborated by Crazier and Friedberg (1977/1980). This sociological theory allows for the understanding of complex sport organizations by the study of strategies and power relationships within them. The theory is linked to a restricted phenomenological method that can be used to discover the material, structural, and human conditions that limit and define the rationality of organizational actors, and thereby the meaning of their observable behaviors. Theory and method are explicated, and the paper concludes with an empirical example of the use of strategic analysis for the study of amateur sport federations.

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Geneviève Rail

This study tested the relationship between perceived role characteristics and role satisfaction among sport executives. It also investigated the relative importance of role characteristics and individual variables in the prediction of role satisfaction. Measures of perceived role characteristics and role satisfaction were obtained through content analysis of interviews with 60 executives involved in Quebec amateur sport federations. Demographic data were gathered by questionnaire. Results indicated positive correlations between perceived role characteristics and role satisfaction. As demonstrated by multiple regression analysis, the selected individual characteristics (age and marital status) were not predictive of role satisfaction. Use of competence, autonomy, role significance, and recognition were found to be the four major determinants of role satisfaction within the voluntary sport associations.

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Geneviève Rail

The recent construction of a so-called “obesity epidemic” has been fueled by epidemiologically-based studies recuperated by the media and suggestions of the rapid acceleration of obesity rates in the Western world. Studies linking obesity to ill-health have also exploded and greatly impacted our “physical” culture. In this article, I present a series of postcards to summarize the dominant obesity discourse and document the rhetorical terrain of the impending epidemic. I also offer counter-postcards to dispute the postcards’ objective postulations and contextualize the birth of what I call the “Obesity Clinic.” I then characterize this polymorphous clinic as an apparatus of capture sustained by biomedicalization, bioeconomics, and biocultural discourses and speak to its regulation and abjection of unruly (fat) bodies. I conclude with a few reflections about the territorializing nature of the Obesity Clinic as well as what it means for individuals and, more generally, for physical culture and its study.

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Fred Mason and Geneviève Rail

Newspaper photographs of athletes at the 1999 Pan-American Games from five Canadian newspapers were analyzed for sexual differences in amount and content. Improvements in media coverage were noted over earlier studies. The percentage of photographs of women athletes was very close to that of men, and bettered their participation rate. There was also little difference in the camera angles used or in the activity level of the athletes pictured. However, sexual differences were still created in very subtle ways. Photographs of men were more likely to appear in prominent locations in the newspaper. Women in some stereotypically “male-appropriate” sports received coverage that brought them back into line with feminine ideals and mitigated their “gender transgressions.” Results suggest that women in the sports media are receiving greater amount of coverage, but the media still maintains practices that subtly create and naturalize sexual differences and set particular sports off as appropriate only for men.

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Edited by Jean Harvey and Geneviève Rail

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Geneviève Rail and Jean Harvey

This paper is an introduction to the topic of Michel Foucault and the sociology of sport. First, we discuss the concepts used in the works of Foucault that have had the greatest impact in sociology of sport. Second, we present a brief review of the important articles in sociology of sport that have been inspired by Foucault’s approach. This exercise allows us to provide indices of the influence of the Foucauldian perspective on the sociology of sport: directly, by allowing us to situate the body at the center of research questions, or indirectly, in the context of the development and use of contemporary social theories.

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Barbara Ravel and Geneviéve Rail

Several studies on the experiences of nonheterosexual women in sport have highlighted the development of lesbian subcultures in sport, while others have emphasized the scarcity of athletic contexts embracing sexual diversity. This article explores the narratives of 14 young Francophone sportswomen positioning themselves as “gaie,” lesbian, bisexual, or refusing labels altogether. Using a feminist poststructuralist perspective, we examine their discursive constructions of sport and argue that the discourses articulated in sport allow for the creation of a space of resistance to heteronormativity. We suggest that the sport space is constructed as a “gaie” space within which a normalizing version of lesbian sexuality is proposed. We investigate how in/ex/clusion discourses are inscribed in space and how subjects are impacted by and, in turn, impact these discourses.

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William Bridel and Geneviève Rail

Placing the sporting body and Michel Foucault’s technologies of power and of the self at the center of our research inquiry, this article explores the ways in which 12 Canadian gay male marathoners discursively construct their bodies within and beyond the marathon context. Thematic analysis of the research materials (gathered through guided conversations, written stories, and the first author’s research journal) revealed four main themes: self-governed bodily practices, body modification, the marathoning body as resistant to dominant representations of male corporeality in gay culture, and transformative potential. Following Foucault, materials were further submitted to discourse analysis through which we uncovered the appropriation of and resistance to dominant discourses. This analysis suggested the subjects’ discursive constructions as “hybrid” creations located both within, and sometimes in contest to, dominant discourses of physical activity, running, and the male body in gay culture. Our research explores the experiences of gay male athletes through a sociological lens that differs from the present literature, which has largely drawn on hegemony theory. It also adds new insights into distance running as a social phenomenon.

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Nisara Jiwani and Geneviève Rail

This article focuses on the results of a study exploring young Shia Muslim Canadian women’s discursive constructions of physical activity in relation to Islam and the Hijab. The aims of the study were primarily informed by feminist poststructuralist and postcolonial theories. Poststructuralist discourse analysis was used to analyze the transcripts of conversations with 10 young Hijab-wearing Shia Muslim Canadian women. The results show that the participants discursively constructed physical activity in terms of being physically active (involved in fitness activities rather than sport), feeling good about themselves (i.e., being physically and mentally healthy), and losing weight or remaining “not fat.” The participants mentioned that they would choose Islam over physical activity if they had to make a choice between the two. Participants strongly resisted the Islamophobic discourse present in Canada, and appropriated an intersectional discourse that legitimates their refusal to choose between their right to religious freedom and their right to physical activity.