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‘I’m many different people’: examining the influence of space and place on girls’ constructions of embodied identities

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conference contribution
posted on 2015-12-09, 09:54 authored by Rachel SandfordRachel Sandford
Within the field of physical education, much interest has been given to the study of young people’s social practices in recent years and the impact of these on their understandings of self (Sandford & Rich, 2006). Authors have highlighted the growing complexity of social life (Wright et al., 2003) meaning that young people are now shaped by their engagements with numerous, interconnecting social fields (Holroyd, 2003). Within these debates, there has been a strong focus on the body as a means by which individuals construct understandings of self (and others) with physical culture identified as an important context influencing the development of embodied identities (lisahunter et al., 2014). As such, it is argued that to gain authentic insight into the activity choices/practices of young people, it is important to take into account the social/cultural spaces that constitute their day-to-day lives (O’Donovan et al., 2014). This paper draws upon data from two distinct studies that sought to examine the impact of social experiences on girls’ constructions of embodied identities. Adopting a youth voice perspective (MacPhail & O’Sullivan, 2010) data were generated through various focus group discussions and activity-based tasks (e.g. drawing, writing, mapping and ranking activities) with girls aged 8-16 years from schools within the Midlands and North-West of England. A thematic analysis of data, informed by a Bourdieuian theoretical framework (e.g. Bourdieu, 1985), highlighted several issues relating to the impact of space and place on girls’ embodied constructions of self. This discussion identifies four key themes, which serve to illustrate the complex process of managing/negotiating identities. These are: the recognition of multi-dimensional identities; the contextual nature of embodied identities; the problem of conflicting identities; and articulations of resistant identities. The implications of these themes with regard to girls’ dispositions towards, experiences of and participation in sport/physical activity are discussed.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Published in

The Sport Project: Probing the Boundaries (4th Global Meeting)


SANDFORD, R.A., 2015. ‘I’m many different people’: examining the influence of space and place on girls’ constructions of embodied identities. Presented at: Space, Place and Sport. The Sport Project: Probing the Boundaries: 4th Global Meeting,24th-26th September 2015, Mansfield College, Oxford.




  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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This is a conference paper.


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Mansfield College, Oxford

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