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A study of grounded theory identities, childhood identities and the culture of physical activity

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posted on 28.10.2010, 13:36 authored by Charles A. Buckley
Whilst it is realised that children's attitudes are established in the early years there has been a dearth of studies into the socio-cultural factors affecting young children's perceptions of physical activity. It has been recognised that there is an urgent need for investigators to try and develop insights into how these children interpret the messages they receive from significant others. Grounded theory has become accepted as a valuable approach to gathering and interpreting qualitative data. It encourages the researcher to make sense of the social world by providing a framework which allows theories to emerge from data collected in contrast to traditional research methodologies where the emphasis is on testing set hypotheses. This study reviews the status of the grounded theory literature and assesses the potential use of this approach in developing substantive and formal theories accounting for behavioural phenomena amongst young children. There exist two almost contrasting approaches to using grounded theory, the Glaserian and Straussian, both of which are complex and difficult to understand; if however the researcher is to make an informed choice about which approach is most suitable it is necessary to evaluate and consequently choose one of these two approaches. Fifty four children, seven to nine years of age, were studied over a four year period, using interview and observational data collection techniques to establish their activity choices and attitudes towards physical activity. Peers were found to have a strong influence, particularly in the later years spent in primary school. The grounded theory analysis produced a core category subsequently labelled, 'Interpreting Myself - The Identity Profile Continuum' and composed of three axes. There were also three mediating categories which, together with the core category serve to account for behavioural phenomena amongst the sample. Children were found to create an identity for themselves based around the way that they interpret messages from parents and peers. Identities can change in different social contexts and over time. As they become older. however, children begin to accept their identity which contours their behaviour and attitudes towards both organised sport, physical education and playground activities.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


© Charles Alan Buckley

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Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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