The promises and pitfalls of sex integration in sport and physical culture

Alex Channon, Katherine Dashper, Thomas Fletcher, Robert J. Lake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Scholars working in the academic field of sport studies have long debated the relationship between modern sport and gender (e.g., Hargreaves and Anderson, 2014; Hargreaves, 1994; Lenskyj, 1986; Messner, 2002). Within this body of work, modern sport forms – along with a great diversity of related activities, including dance, fitness training, physical education, etc. – have consistently been shown to carry meanings relative to the structures of gender prevailing in the wider social settings within which they take place, with patterns of participation and consumption clearly mapping onto gendered ideals. However, rather than simply mirroring such social norms, research suggests that many sporting practices were invented or have been purposefully developed in order to train young men and women in socially-approved gender behaviors to begin with (Cahn 1994; Hargreaves 1994; Theberge, 2000). Thus, much of contemporary physical culture finds its roots in the process which scholars describe as the ‘social construction of gender’; in other words, doing sports and other activities in gender-differentiated ways has long been a means of producing and maintaining difference in the lives of men and women, girls and boys.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1111-1124
Number of pages14
JournalSport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics
Issue number8-9
Publication statusPublished - 28 Dec 2015

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics on 28/12/2015, available online:

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