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Title: 'Non-sporty' girls take the lead : a feminist participatory action research approach to physical activity
Author: Green, Laura
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis explores the use of feminist participatory action research (FPAR) within women-only youth and community work settings. The project investigated possibilities for flexible sports participation with non-sporty young women. Underpinned by poststructural feminism, the research considers the complex ways that gendered subjectivities are contested and constructed in relation to sporting embodiment and broader power relations. FPAR's, explicit aim is to affect positive social change. It is: participatory; defined by the need for action; and creates knowledge but not for the sake of knowledge alone. FPAR combines the sharing of common experiences of oppression with collective action. By using FPAR within youth and community settings over the course of 12 months, a group of young mums and a group of young women were encouraged to examine their relationship with physical activity and develop physical activity projects that suited their own needs. Research proceeded through three broad phases: interactive group discussion activities; planning of and participating in needs-led physical activity projects; and project evaluations. This project sought to find new ways of understanding young women’s engagement in physical activity and open up safe spaces for them to consider and experiment with new subjectivities and physically active subject positions. The thesis illuminates the highlights and challenges of implementing physical activity through participatory action research in youth work settings. Findings from the study outline the ways in which young women’s ‘non-sporty’ subjectivities are constructed in relation to discursive practices of gender. Young women’s critical reflections of previous experiences of physical activity revealed the workings of conflicting perceptions of valued emotional capital. The participatory projects provided opportunities for cross-field experiences, which shifted the social field of physical activity, and readdressed relations of power.
Supervisor: Hills, L. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Youth work ; Emotional capital ; Feminist participatory action research (FPAR) ; Bourdieu ; Teenage mothers