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Juggling motherhood and sport: A qualitative study of the negotiation of competitive recreational athlete mother identities


McGannon, KR and McMahon, JA and Gonsolves, CA, Juggling motherhood and sport: A qualitative study of the negotiation of competitive recreational athlete mother identities, Psychology of Sport & Exercise, 36 pp. 41-49. ISSN 1469-0292 (2018) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

2018 Published by Elsevier Ltd.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.psychsport.2018.01.008


Objectives: Qualitative research on physically active mothers has shown that recreational sport allows for personal, social and cultural barriers to be renegotiated in ways that facilitate well-being and sport participation. The purpose of this study was to extend this understanding by examining competitive recreational athlete mothers' negotiation of sport training and competition in relation to their identities.

Design: A qualitative approach grounded in social constructionism and discursive psychology was used to theorize athlete mother identities as constructed within nuanced cultural discourses, with multiple meanings and effects (e.g., psychological, social, behavioural) on women's psychological, training and parental experiences.

Method: An interpretive thematic analysis (TA) was conducted on in-depth interviews with 7 North American recreational athlete mothers, who train to compete in national and/or international sport competitions.

Results: A central theme constructed multiple meanings of motherhood and athletic experiences: juggling motherhood and sport. The meanings of motherhood and sport were multiple and fluid depending on three subthemes, which were used as strategies to negotiate identities as athletes and mothers: 1. adjustment of training and competition; 2. support as multifaceted and negotiated; and 3. reciprocity of motherhood and sport. These themes highlight the nuanced ways in which juggling motherhood and sport are negotiated in relation to socially constructed identities, in constraining and emancipative ways.

Conclusions: This study extends research on the social construction of cultural identities in sport psychology and work on athlete mother identities into competitive recreational athletics.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:gender, Identity, athlete mothers, thematic analysis, discursive psychology
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Gender studies
Research Field:Gender relations
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Schools and learning environments
Objective Field:Equity and access to education
UTAS Author:McMahon, JA (Associate Professor Jennifer McMahon)
ID Code:124093
Year Published:2018
Web of Science® Times Cited:20
Deposited By:Education
Deposited On:2018-02-08
Last Modified:2019-08-28

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