"Successful and feminine athlete" and "natural-born fighter" : a discursive exploration of female judoka's identities in Greece and Finland
Published inStudies in sport, physical education and health
Despite feminist concerns about the asymmetrical distribution of power in martial arts and combat sports (MACS), sport psychology research has overlooked issues of inequality and socio-cultural difference, as well as their effects on athletes’ experiences and identity negotiation. The present doctoral dissertation explores the intersection of gender, culture, and identity in judo through the lens of cultural praxis and feminist poststructuralist frameworks. The aim was to explore in what ways the cultural context shapes the experiences and identities of female judoka (judo athletes). Two specific objectives were set: to trace the discourses (systems of knowledge) through which female judoka articulate and make sense of their experiences, and to develop a theoretically informed analytical understanding of how they construct their identities through the negotiation of sociocultural beliefs and gender stereotypes. An ethnographic approach was employed, and data were gathered during fieldwork in Greece and Finland. In conjunction with participant-observation, semi-structured interviews with 10 female judoka ages 17-40 were conducted in Greece, and nine semi-structured interviews with female judoka ages 20-49 were conducted in Finland. A discursive analytic procedure revealed several discourses as relevant to the ways that female judoka make sense of themselves and their experiences, namely, a female biological inferiority discourse, discourses of ideal femininity, a patriarchal discourse of gender roles, a discourse of gender equality, and discourses of athletic performance and elite and mass sport. In this dissertation, I discuss the different and similar ways in which Greek and Finnish athletes are subjected to these discourses. In relation to the subject positions offered to them within these discourses, female judoka strategically construct multiple (and often conflicting) identities, each serving different purposes. I de-construct the successful and feminine athlete and the natural-born fighter to show how the repetition of certain identities assists in the reproduction of gender hierarchies and inequalities. I conclude that there is a need for discursive interventions to move toward gender equity in MACS. ...
Alternative titleDiscursive exploration of female judoka's identities in Greece and Finland
PublisherUniversity of Jyväskylä
- Artikkeli I: Kavoura, A., Ryba, T. V., & Kokkonen, M. (2012). Psychological research on martial artists: A critical view from a cultural praxis framework. Scandinavian Sport Studies Forum, 3, 1-23. Psychological Research on Martial Artists.
- Artikkeli II: Kavoura, A., Ryba, T. V., & Chroni, S. (2015). Negotiating female judoka identities in Greece: A Foucauldian discourse analysis. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 17, 88-98. DOI: 10.1016/j.psychsport.2014.09.011.
- Artikkeli III: Kavoura, A., Kokkonen, M., Chroni, S., & Ryba T. V. (2017). “Some women are born fighters”: Discursive constructions of a fighter’s identity by female Finnish judo athletes. Sex Roles. DOI: 10.1007/s11199-017-0869-1.
- Artikkeli IV: Kavoura, A. (2016). (Re)negotiating an athlete’s identity during training and researching judo in Finland. In P. Berg & M. Kokkonen (Eds.), Urheilun takapuoli: Tasa-arvo ja yhdenvertaisuus liikunnassa ja urheilussa [The backside of Sport: Equal Opportunities and Equality in Sports and Exercise] (pp. 91-107). Helsinki: Nuorisotutkimusverkosto/Nuorisotutkimusseura, julkaisuja 186.
cultural praxis cultural sport psychology ethnography feminist poststructuralist theory gender martial arts and combat sports women judokat naiset naisurheilu identiteetti sukupuoliroolit naisellisuus menestyminen tasa-arvo kamppailulajit kulttuurierot feministinen teoria etnografia liikuntapsykologia Kreikka Suomi
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