Rugby, School Boys and Masculinities: In an American School in Taiwan.
Vicars, A. G. F. (2008). Rugby, School Boys and Masculinities: In an American School in Taiwan. (Thesis, Master of Sport and Leisure Studies (MSpLS)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10289/2385
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/2385
Gender research throughout the last two decades has positioned sport as one of the central sites in the social production of masculinities. In particular, body contact, confrontational sports have been identified as central to the reproduction of a dominant but problematic form of masculinity, typically known as hegemonic masculinity. Whether it is through participation, opposition, resistance, complicity or media consumption, contact sports have been identified as constructing individual understandings of masculinity as well as contributing to the continued marginalization and subordination of other types of masculinities. Researchers working within schools have also linked rugby to similarly negative understandings of masculinities. The majority of these school based studies have been conducted in countries where contact sports are traditionally respected or in schools where rugby is tied to traditional and institutionalized understandings of masculinity. As yet little attention has been paid to boys who play rugby in countries or schools where rugby is not tied to traditional and institutionalized understandings of masculinity. As a New Zealand teacher working in an American school, in Taiwan, I set out to examine the rugby experiences of high school boys and to investigate the influence that rugby has on their understanding of masculinities. My study employed in-depth interviews with seven boys. Cognizant of the fact that the majority of gender based sport research has utilised Connell's theory of hegemonic masculinity, I adopted a 'Foucauldian method' to analyse the data. In doing so it was my intention to contribute to the field of sport and gender studies by utilising an alternative perspective instead of creating repetitive and redundant research which could lead to some problems being explored exhaustively. My main findings revealed a number of dominant discourses surrounding and constituting rugby within the American School of Taiwan. These included discourses of rugby as a masculine sport, as a foreign/western sport, and as a low status sport. Drawing upon these discourses I examined how the participants' gendered subjectivities were influenced by their rugby participation. The results revealed that within the general context of the school, rugby players were generally regarded as low status male athletes. However, within the western cultural group of students, rugby players were regarded as high status male athletes. This study contributes to gender and sport studies by suggesting that contact sports such as rugby need not always contribute to structured and hierarchical understandings of masculinities.
The University of Waikato
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