Discourses of disability sport : experiences of elite male and female athletes in Britain and Taiwan
Disability sport has been a relatively under-researched area within the fields of both sport sociology and disability studies, in particular regarding countries outside the West. This comparative research, therefore, is an attempt to rectify the situation and make sense of the experiences of elite sportsmen and sportswomen with physical disabilities in Great Britain and Taiwan, specifically those who have represented their respective countries at the Paralympic Games or the Athletics and Power lifting World Championships. Through 21 in-depth interviews with a life history approach, the aim of the research has been to gain a greater understanding and provide as authentic an account as possible of the experiences of elite male and female athletes with disabilities - in particular, how they experience their bodies and construct, negotiate, and perform their identities in relation to their involvement in elite disability sport. This research also involves a critical analysis, set within the social model of disability and using a feminist perspective, of dominant medical model ideologies and discourses associated with disability, gender and sport in British and Taiwanese societies. It investigates how dominant ideologies and stereotypes produce disabling physical and social barriers that are manifest in various oppressive practices within social institutions and thus impinge on the lives, sporting experiences and the construction of identities of the research participants. In line with the emancipatory research framework adopted in this research, the elite disabled athletes are included in the research process as active participants who are experts in their own experiences, rather than as research objects.