Modern sports appear to have a historically variable relative autonomy; that is to say, what happens in sport can be explained by looking at the changing balances of power between the groups involved in sports, the integration of sports in wider social figurations such as national societies, and the stage of development of wider social totalities. Using the figurational sociological perspective, this essay uses Eric Dunning's work on sport and gender (since the 1960s) to investigate further aspects of: (i) the position of different sporting disciplines in the overall status hierarchy of sports in Ireland; (ii) particular female athletes' positions within these sports; (iii) the consequences of social relations for the self-conceptions of masculine and feminine habituses; and (iv), the ways in which changes in the self-images and social make-up of male and female athletes in Ireland (as elsewhere) go hand in hand with changes in the social structure of gender relations more generally. The essay, therefore, is an attempt to outline and summarize the relevance of Dunning's work to our understanding of aspects of the sport-gender nexus in Western societies and, secondly, makes a (modest) contribution towards ‘a sociology of sport in the Republic of Ireland’.
Bibliographical noteReference text: Birrell, S. and C. Cole, eds. Women, Sport and Culture. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1994.
Brinkgreve, C. “Elias on Gender Relations: The Changing Balance of Power Between the by Sexes.”
In The Sociology of Norbert Elias, edited by S. Loyal and S. Quilley. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2004.
Byrne, A. and M. Leonard. Women and Irish Society: A Sociological Reader. Belfast: Beyond the Pale
Colwell, S. “Feminisms and Figurational Sociology: Contributions to Understandings of Sport,
Physical Education and Sex/Gender.” European Physical Education Review 5, no. 3 (1999):
Curtin, C., P. Jackson, and B. O’Connor. Gender in Irish Society. Galway: Galway University Press,
Department of Education. The Economic Impact of Sport. Dublin: Government Publications Office,
Department of Education. A National Survey of Involvement in Sport and Physical Activity. Dublin:
Government Publications Office, 1996.
Department of Education. Targeting Sporting Change in Ireland: Sport in Ireland, 1997–2006 and
Beyond. Dublin: Government Publications Office, 1997.
Dunning, E. “The Development of Football as an Organised Game.” MA thesis, University of
Dunning, E. “Figurational Sociology and the Sociology of Sport.” In Sport and Social Theory, edited
by C. R. Rees and A. Miracle. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1986: 29–56.
Dunning, E. “The Dynamics of Modern Sport: Notes on the Achievement-Striving and the Social
Significance of Sport.” In Quest for Excitement: Sport and Leisure in the Civilizing Process,
edited by N. Elias and E. Dunning. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986: 205–24.
Dunning, E. “Sport as a Male Preserve: Notes on the Social Sources of Masculine Identity and its
Transformations.” In Quest for Excitement: Sport and Leisure in the Civilizing Process, edited by
N. Elias and E. Dunning. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986: 267–84.
Dunning, E. “Sport and Gender in a Patriarchal Society.” Paper presented at the World Congress of
Sociology, Madrid, 1990.
Dunning, E. “Figurational Sociology and the Sociology of Sport: Some Concluding Remarks.”
In Sport and Leisure in the Civilizing Process, edited by E. Dunning and C. Rojek. Basingstoke:
Macmillan, 1992: pp. 221–84.
Dunning, E. Sport Matters: Sociological Studies of Sport, Violence and Civilization. London: Routledge,
Dunning, E. “Figurational Contributions to the Sociological Study of Sport.” In Theory, Sport and
Society, edited by J. Maguire and K. Young. London: JAI, Elsevier Science, 2002.
Dunning, E. and J. Maguire. “Process-Sociological Notes on Sport, Gender Relations and Violence
Control.” International Review for the Sociology of Sport 31, no. 3 (1996): 295–317.
Dunning, E. and K. Sheard. “The Rugby Football Club as a Type of Male Preserve.” International
Review of Sport Sociology 5 (1973): 5–24.
Elias, N. “Introduction.” In Quest for Excitement: Sport and Leisure in the Civilizing Process, edited by
N. Elias and E. Dunning. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986: 41.
632 K. Liston
Downloaded by [University of Ulster at Coleraine] at 04:49 21 March 2012
Elias, N. “The Changing Balance of Power Between the Sexes – A Process-Sociological Study: The
Example of the Ancient Roman State.” Theory, Culture and Society 4 (1987): 287–316.
Elias, N. The Society of Individuals. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1991.
Elias, N. and E. Dunning. Quest for Excitement: Sport and Leisure in the Civilizing Process. Oxford:
Basil Blackwell, 1986.
Elias, N. and E. Dunning. “Leisure in the Spare-Time Spectrum.” In Quest for Excitement: Sport and
Leisure in the Civilizing Process, edited by N. Elias and E. Dunning. Oxford: Basil Blackwell,
Fasting, K. and M. Sisjord. “Sport and Society around the Globe: Nordic Countries.” In Handbook of
Sports Studies, edited by J. Coakley and E. Dunning. London: Sage, 2000: 551–3.
Hargreaves, J. “Sex, Gender and the Body in Sport and Leisure: Has There Been a Civilizing Process?”
In Sport and Leisure in the Civilizing Process, edited by E. Dunning and C. Rojek. London:
Macmillan, 1992: 161–83.
Inglis, T. Moral Monopoly: The Rise and Fall of the Catholic Church in Modern Ireland. Dublin:
University College Press, 1998.
Liston, K. “Playing the Masculine/Feminine Game: A Sociological Analysis of the Social Fields of
Sport and Gender in Ireland.” Ph.D. diss., University College Dublin, 2004.
Liston, K. and G.Menzies, eds.Women and Sport in Ireland: Report prepared for Da´il Joint Committee.
Dublin: Government Publications Office, 2004.
Mennell, S. Norbert Elias: An Introduction. Dublin: University College Dublin Press, 1992.
O’Connor, A. P. Emerging Voices: Women in Contemporary Society. Dublin: Institute of Public
Sheard, K. “Aspects of Boxing in the Western “Civilizing Process”.” International Review for the
Sociology of Sport 32, no. 1 (1997): 53.
Van Stolk, B. and C. Wouters. “Power Changes and Self-Respect: A Comparison of Two Cases of
Established-Outsider Relations.” Theory, Culture and Society 4, no. 4 (1987): 485.
Sport in Society 633
- power relations