Gender & Politics

We have been exploring the extent to which the structure of sport has been used to reinforce traditional gender binary. In most sports men and women still compete separately and crossover is either not allowed or leads to enormous controversy. In recent years various mass and social media platforms have been replete with discussions and, often strong, opinions around transgender athletes and their potential contribution to the demise of women’s sports.

Here a cacophony of voices and opinions clash which varyingly focus on protecting women’s sport, principles of inclusivity, biological/sex differences and advantages as well as gender identities and fairness.

Given the complexity of ongoing debates around gender, a sensible, and perhaps straightforward, approach for many may be to buy into the mantra of populist right-wing parties and, for instance, agree with the views of the Trump, Orbán and Bolsonaro governments that people are either born male or female and no gender alternatives should be recognised. In this politically exclusionist climate that attributes primordial approaches to understanding gender and sex, we have been exploring and critiquing the complex and multiple intersections of gender, sport, physical activity and politics.

Specific Focus

Gender, Identity and the Body research theme focuses on critically exploring and understanding socio-cultural issues associated with sports, exercise, physical activity, and health. Our key aim is to generate high-quality socio-cultural research in relation to these key domains. We strive to develop research that is interdisciplinary, theoretically sound and informed by empirical evidence; and research that will influence wider society and aim to further develop our links with key stakeholders. Key research interests include:  corporeal and sporting/exercise/physical activity identities, gender, sexuality, and corporeal drives and body projects

Politics of sport research theme centres around exploring and identifying historical and contemporary connections between sport and politics. Research in the theme is focused on exploring to what extent and in what ways sport has been inextricably linked to most if not all of those aspects of human society which political scientists regard as significant. Therefore, research carried out as part of this theme relates both to sport politics (i.e., political activity which takes place within sports organisations) and to the politics of sport (i.e., the ways in which sport and politics interact in different ways and at different levels of human society). Key research interests include: national identity, nation-states, minority identities, necropolitics, populist politics, fascism, political hegemony and soft power.