Loughborough University
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Talking gender and sexuality : conversations about leisure

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posted on 2013-08-19, 12:54 authored by Susan A. Speer
This thesis is a discursive and conversation analytic study of how people talk about gender in the context of discussions about leisure. The data comprise a corpus of over 600 pages of transcribed talk-in-interaction from a variety of sources, including dinner discussions, focus groups, informal interviews, newspaper and magazine articles, television talk shows and documentaries. In contrast to most feminist leisure research, I take participants' talk as my starting point. I explore how gender is made relevant by participants and constituted in the course of their discussions, and what these constructions are used to do interactionally. The thesis works on two levels. First, it provides a distinctive contribution to leisure research, sport sociology and psychology. It explores what leisure theorists have themselves constructed as 'the problem' in leisure theory, and demonstrates how a discursive, conversation analytic approach can help transcend some of these theoretical and methodological 'problems' - including the way that the concept of leisure itself might be conceived and studied. It identifies three structuring concerns in feminist leisure theory, and provides a discursive and conversation analytic reworking of each of them: (i) Justifications for the Non-Participation of Women in 'Male-Identified' Activities; (ii) Hegemonic Masculinity; and (iii) Heterosexism. Second, it provides a distinctive contribution to discursive and conversation analytic approaches to gender, by problematizing and developing our understanding of the way femininity, sexism, masculinity and heterosexism 'get done' in talk. It concludes with a discussion of the implications of this approach for feminist leisure theory, discursive psychology and conversation analysis, and challenges researchers with an interest in 'ideology' and 'power' to take this approach seriously. It finishes with some questions for future analysis.



  • Social Sciences


  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies


© Susan A. Speer

Publication date



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


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