This essay endeavours to present a more reality-congruent understanding of aspects of theemergence and development of women’s soccer in Ireland since the 1970s. It draws on interviewand survey data, and on the author’s elite level involvement in women’s soccer sincethe mid 1990s, to suggest that a present day phenomenon – in this case, females’ increasinginvolvement in a traditionally male-associated sport like soccer – is more adequatelyunderstood as a specific point in a longer and wider developmental social phenomenon. Incomparison to previous works in this general area (for example, Bourke and Williams), itis suggested that females’ increasing participation in soccer in Ireland is more adequatelyunderstood, in sociological terms, by looking at: (i) the position of soccer in the overallstatus hierarchy of sports; (ii) female and male athletes’ positions within soccer; (iii) theconsequences of social relations for the self-conceptions of males’ and females’ habituses:and, (iv) the ways in which changes in the self-images and social make-up of male andfemale athletes are inextricably bound up with changes in the social structure of genderrelations generally. Finally, this chapter offers some ideas for future directions in researchon women’s soccer, and women’s sports more generally.
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