Loughborough University
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Experiences of pain and injury in male and female artistic gymnastics: a figurational sociological study

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posted on 2016-06-23, 12:38 authored by Nuno Pimenta
Several studies using a sociological approach identified the existence of a culture of risk in sport. These works studied professional, amateur, male and female sport figurations and concluded that this culture of risk enmeshes athletes to practice and compete while in pain and when injured. Particularly, studies about gender acknowledge the existence of similar male and female experiences of pain and injury. However, these studies separately studied male and female sports. No work to date has studied within the same research design athletes and coaches perceptions about pain and injury experiences and how they are negotiated and socialized. Thus, this study sought to explore whether male and female experiences of pain and injury really are similar, or whether differences would become evident through a study which involved a more direct comparison. The research design of this study was informed by figurational sociology. Data for this work were firstly gathered during 9 months of overt-observation. By including observational notes from the interactions between 11 male athletes, 13 female athletes, 3 coaches of the male team, 3 coaches of the female team and 2 physiotherapists, this research provides a more adequate understanding of the gymnastics figuration, its interdependences and power fluxes. Additionally, 9 male athletes, 8 female athletes, 3 male team coaches and 2 female team coaches were interviewed. Data collected in this research is in accordance with sociological literature about pain and injury in sport. All athletes revealed a willingness to continue training and competing even when injured and in pain. However, data also revealed gendered differences about how male and female athletes are enmeshed in the culture of risk. Particularly, gendered differences were found in the training environment, coach-athlete power differences, body control, socialization processes and in male and female athletes expressions of pain and injury. Thus, this research raises several questions about the value of sociological studies of gender in sport that approach male and female experiences separately, as gender is sociologically created through male and female interdependence.


Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT)



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


© Nuno Pimenta

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


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