Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

O'Flynn, G. H. (2010). The business of 'bettering' students' lives: Physical and health education and the production of social class subjectivities. Sport, Education and Society, 15 (4), 431-445.


This paper explores the ways physical and health education is justified in two school settings: a private girls school and a co-educational government school located in the same Australian city. Physical and health education policies and interview material with teachers are drawn on to explore the meanings taken up by the schools. Whilst similar sets of `truths around young people and health were drawn on to define the place of physical and health education in the lives of their students, there were also stark differences. It is argued that through these differences important discursive work is being performed. In particular, this paper explores how the schools are implicated in the discursive continuation of particular `classed subjectivities. For example, a set of discourses around `at-risk, `disadvantaged, `youth were drawn on by the teachers from the government school to construct physical and health education as a means for `saving their students lives. By comparison, in the private girls schools texts, emphasis was on inviting students to become particular `independent, `responsible young women. It is argued that the exposure and access to these different notions of `health positioned students quite differently as particular`classed subjects.