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(Self-) surveillance and (self-) regulation: living by fat numbers within and beyond a sporting culture


McMahon, JA and Penney, D, (Self-) surveillance and (self-) regulation: living by fat numbers within and beyond a sporting culture, Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 5, (2) pp. 157-178. ISSN 2159-676X (2012) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2012 Taylor & Francis

DOI: doi:10.1080/2159676X.2012.712998


This paper utilises Foucault's theory of disciplinary power and concepts of surveillance, regulation and technologies of the self. The concepts are used to explore practices that we associate with the notion of swimmers ‘living by fat numbers' during their competitive swimming careers as adolescents and post-career as adult women. Extracts from narrative accounts generated via in-depth interviews are presented and analysed utilising some Foucauldian concepts relating to power and surveillance. The paper illustrates the ways in which fat, weight and food numbers are a focus of surveillance and regulation by others and by swimmers themselves. Particular thinking and practices relating to the body, weight, food and performance are shown to become embedded, accepted and normalised within a sporting culture and be sustained beyond it some 10–30 years on. The paper raises issues for those within and beyond sporting cultures to engage with; relating to the enduring long-term impact of the normalisation of body practices amidst discourses of performance and perfection in sport.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:body, sport, surveillance, narrative, autoethnography
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Curriculum and pedagogy
Research Field:Physical education and development curriculum and pedagogy
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Other education and training
Objective Field:Other education and training not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:McMahon, JA (Associate Professor Jennifer McMahon)
ID Code:80422
Year Published:2012
Deposited By:Education
Deposited On:2012-10-31
Last Modified:2017-11-09

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