A History of the Present on the "Sportsman" and the "Sportswoman"

  • Håkan Larsson Stockholm Institute of Education
Keywords: sport, sex, gender, subjectivity, discourse, history of the present, equal opportunities, heteronormativity


The purpose of this article is to disseminate the construction of manliness and womanliness in Swedish sport. Of particular interest is gender equity policy in sport as a new way of creating sexual/gender difference. Michel FOUCAULT's concept "a history of the present"—a genealogical approach—serves as an important tool in this work. Interviews with athletes in their teens (track & field athletics) and texts published by the Swedish Sports Confederation serve as empirical material. When asked about themselves as track & field athletes and their ways of seeing others participating in track & field, the boys often speak about themselves and other boys in a straightforward and unproblematic way. The girls on the other hand, speak about themselves and other girls in a problematic way. This is not an unexpected result, but the conventional interpretation is that it is a sign of gender inequalities in sport. From a genealogical point of view, it might rather be seen as an effect of gender equity policies. Gender equity policy can be seen as a practical strategy of guaranteeing women and men the opportunities to do the same thing—sport, simultaneously performing two distinct and clearly differentiated gendered subjects, to be equalised. As such, gender equity policies might be perceived as an apparatus that produces and regulates sexual/gender difference. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs030193


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Author Biography

Håkan Larsson, Stockholm Institute of Education
Håkan LARSSON is a senior lecturer in education at the Stockholm Institute of Education. His main research interests include the relation between power, knowledge and subjectivity in sport, particularly gendered subjectivity. He is currently involved in two research projects concerning physical education in primary school. His main source of inspiration for theory is the French philosopher Michel Foucault, and his concept "a history of the present".
How to Cite
Larsson, H. (2003). A History of the Present on the "Sportsman" and the "Sportswoman". Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 4(1). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-4.1.751