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The athlete–doctor relationship: power, complicity, resistance and accomplices in recycling dominant sporting ideologies


McMahon, J and McGannon, KR, The athlete-doctor relationship: power, complicity, resistance and accomplices in recycling dominant sporting ideologies, Sport Education and Society Article Epub ahead of print. ISSN 1357-3322 (2018) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

DOI: doi:10.1080/13573322.2018.1561434


Sociological investigations into the athlete–medical practitioner relationship are scarce due to medical bias for positivist epistemologies. The aim of this research was to identify the scope and purpose of medical interventions for four athletes, within the context of social processes that enable medicine to claim athletic bodies as objects of practice and performance. The role and function of power in the athlete–medical doctor transaction and athlete embodiment were also of interest. Using a story-analyst approach grounded in narrative analysis, the ideologies of ‘slim to win’ and ‘performance’ were identified as the impetus for the athletes seeking the expertise of doctors. Doctors were positioned as accomplices in ‘slim to win’ and ‘performance’ ideologies within the athletes’ stories, which influenced medical practices and compromised athlete health. Disciplinary power was enacted when the doctors observed, corrected and manipulated the athletes’ bodies through medical practice. Athletes also had agency through renegotiating the meaning of the ‘treatment’ process by reconfiguring medical doctor’s disciplinary power as forms of empowerment knowledge. This research highlights the complex nature of the athlete–medical doctor transaction and how these encounters can be productive and oppressive for athletes.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Narrative analysis; embodiment; medicine; performance; power; agency
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Other education
Research Field:Other education not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Other health
Objective Field:Other health not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:McMahon, J (Dr Jennifer McMahon)
ID Code:130166
Year Published:2018
Web of Science® Times Cited:13
Deposited By:Education
Deposited On:2019-01-14
Last Modified:2019-03-21

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