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Growing old and still practising competitive sports: An exploration of acting-space and sense-making processes among old women and men
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The thesis explores how the way athletically active old men and women make sense of their acting-space affects their participation in competitive sports and conversely how their participation in competitive sports affect their sense-making process and acting-space. It puts emphasis on the sociological point of intersection of three different research fields; sports science, critical gerontology and gender studies. Concretely, it is inspired by grounded theory research design and based on interviews with twenty-two athletically active men and women over the age of 65. The thesis consists of four articles, and together these show that men and women experience certain constraints of acting-space in the context of competitive sports, which primarily seem to be related to norms of age and gender. At the same time, the thesis shows that by practising sports old adults, especially old women, are able to transgress these constraints and possibly challenge dominant constructions of age and gender.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå Universitet , 2012. , 42 p.
Series
Akademiska avhandlingar vid sociologiska institutionen, Umeå Universitet, ISSN 1104-2508 ; A68
Keyword [en]
aging, sports, gender, acting-space, sense making, old athletes, the process of growing old
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-54034ISBN: 978-91-7459-401-0 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-54034DiVA: diva2:515212
Public defence
2012-05-04, Norra Beteendevetarhuset, Hörsal 1031, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2012-04-13 Created: 2012-04-12 Last updated: 2012-11-16Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Constructing successful old-age masculinities amongst athletes
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Constructing successful old-age masculinities amongst athletes
2011 (English)In: Norma, ISSN 1890-2138, E-ISSN 1890-2146, Vol. 6, no 1, 46-58 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article focuses on the issue of old-age masculinities by exploring if and howthe process of growing old affects the gendered self-images of Swedish old maleathletes. It follows the grounded theory research design of Kathy Charmaz and isbased on interviews with nine athletes aged 68 to 90. The findings in this articleindicate that the athletes withdraw from the masculine practice of competitivesports because it is not considered to be age-appropriate. The men seem toreconstruct their self-images in accordance with four old-age masculinity themes:being physically active, being a leader, being a busy senior, and being a family man.The concept of successful aging is found to be particularly significant in reshapingthe men’s self-images. Therefore, this article proposes a combination of theconcepts of hegemonic masculinity1 and successful aging in order to increase theunderstanding of old-age masculinities.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 2011
Keyword
Old athletes, successful aging, old-age masculinities
National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-47576 (URN)
Projects
Welfare and Work in an Ageing Society
Funder
Swedish Research Council
Available from: 2011-09-29 Created: 2011-09-23 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
2. The complexity of physical capital: How old male athletes relate to body and health
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The complexity of physical capital: How old male athletes relate to body and health
2013 (English)In: International Journal of Men's Health, ISSN 1532-6306, E-ISSN 1933-0278, Vol. 12, no 1, 29-41 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of the present article was to explore how a relatively privileged group of old men, e.g. old athletes, relate to their bodies and health in the process of growing old. Ten male athletes from 68 to 90 years of age were interviewed in this grounded theory study. The findings suggest that the old male athletes controlled their bodies in order to gain physical capital, but that different ways of employing the body were valued in different contexts. Three such contexts were identified: the aging, athletic and masculine context. In an aging context, the men emphasized the importance of caring for one’s body and health, but in an athletic and masculine context, they expressed both a caring and a non-caring approach to body and health. In other words, on the whole the men displayed a contradictious way of relating to their bodies and health. However, they could to some extent reconcile the tensions between the different norms of body and health by emphasizing the need to preserve physical autonomy, an ideal that appeared to be valid in all three contexts.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Men's Studies Press, 2013
Keyword
physical capital, old athletes, aging, body, health, masculinity
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-54020 (URN)10.3149/jmh.1201.29 (DOI)
Projects
Welfare and Work in an Ageing Society
Funder
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare
Available from: 2012-04-13 Created: 2012-04-11 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
3. Breaking down barriers: Women (re)producing athletic identity in old age
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Breaking down barriers: Women (re)producing athletic identity in old age
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

By focusing on retrospective and current narratives of athletically active old Swedish women, the article aims to explore whether and how they are able to form and reproduce a commitment to sport over time, and translate this commitment into resilient strategies in old age. By employing the theoretical frameworks of social identity and life course perspective, the results reveal that the women were able to form and maintain a commitment to sport, through (a) life course experiences of participating in sport, (b) life course experiences of identity clashes, and (c) continuous male support. Based on these experiences, the women developed empowered female aging athletic identities, which enabled them to construct resilient strategies to enable their participation in sport. By identifying themselves as strong and enduring rather than weak and frail, the women might also challenge gendered ageism.

Keyword
Aging, gender, old female athletes, identity, life course
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-54021 (URN)
Projects
Welfare and Work in an Ageing Society
Funder
FAS, Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research
Available from: 2012-04-13 Created: 2012-04-11 Last updated: 2012-04-12Bibliographically approved
4. The role of sports in making sense of the process of growing old
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The role of sports in making sense of the process of growing old
2012 (English)In: Journal of Aging Studies, ISSN 0890-4065, E-ISSN 1879-193X, Vol. 26, no 4, 467-475 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Drawing on interviews with 22 athletically active old men and women, the study explores whether and how the practice of sports can affect old adults' processes of sense-making about old age and the process of growing old in ways that challenge dominant constructions about old age. Thereto, the study will explore the possible impact of gender in this process. The results show that men and women who continue to practice competitive sports into old age make sense of the process of growing old by focusing primarily on their physical abilities, at least in the context of sports. This focus on capability age allows them partly, although not completely, to challenge the usual thinking about old age and the process of growing old.

Keyword
Sense-making, Old age, Gender, Sports
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-58336 (URN)10.1016/j.jaging.2012.06.006 (DOI)
Note

included in thesis in manuscript form.

Available from: 2012-08-29 Created: 2012-08-29 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved

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Eman, Josefin

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