Publication Details

This book chapter was originally published as Wright, J and O'Flynn, GH, Social class, femininity and school sport, in McLeod, J and Allard, A (eds) Learning from the Margins: Young Women, Social Exclusion and Education, London and New York, Routledge, 2007, 82-94. Original book information available here


This paper examines the relationship between the discursive and material practices associated with school sport and physical education and the formation of particular classed and gendered subjectivities; and how these, in turn, impact on young women’s potential life chances. In so doing, the paper will attempt to go beyond an understanding of ‘subjectivity’ as formed in relation to cultural and institutional discourses, to engage with the notion of ability or ‘embodied capacity’ as a form of physical capital (Shilling 1993) which has particular salience in a consumerist ‘performance’ motivated market economy and which is differentially made available in schools. This argument will be developed through the examination of the material and discursive contexts of two Australian schools: an elite private girls’ school and a coeducational government school which draws primarily from young people living a low socio-economic suburb.

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