Date of Award

2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Education

Department

Education

First Advisor

Julie Horwitz

Abstract

It has been said that the primary goal of public education is to deliver a diverse academic curriculum to all students (Ravitch, 2010). However, public schools have also long been identified as places where students are introduced to implicit messages of subordination and oppression (Foucault, 1975; Freire, 1970). In many cases, members of the school community that adhere to locally accepted notions of gender identity (Kimmel, 2008), sexuality (Pascoe, 2007), race-ethnicity (hooks, 1994), and/or general ways of being (Nakkula & Toshalis, 2006) experience routine success while their nonconforming peers are left on the educational periphery to fend for themselves. This has been shown to be particularly true in high school physical education where the marginalization of non-majority students has been described as the norm rather than the exception (Azzarito & Harrison, 2008; Fagrell, Larson, & Redelius, 2012). Stemming from these observations, along with my personal experiences as a physical education student, classroom physical educator, and teacher-educator, the primary purpose of this qualitative, narrative inquiry-based research was to explore what happens when visual methods are used to explore localized notions of masculinity amongst teachers and students in an eleventh grade physical education class.

Utilizing the framework of poststructuralist feminism, I chose to approach this research from an institutional perspective (Weedon, 1997). In concert with poststructuralist feminism, Hegemonic Masculinity Theory (Connell, 2005) has been widely used to study social constructions of masculinity pertaining to institutions around the globe. However, Hegemonic Masculinity Theory has also been criticized for inappropriately associating adult understandings of masculinity to adolescents and children (Bartholomeus, 2011). As such, this study sought to better understand the unique experiences of late-stage adolescents (14-17 years old), their physical education teachers, and myself by enlisting the visual methodologies of photovoice (Wang, 1999) and first-person videography (Kindt, 2010). Once gathered, visual artifacts were then combined with data collected via semi-structured interviews, classroom observations, open-ended survey responses, and researcher journal entries to create individual participant narratives.

After analyzing the data, along with constructed narratives, it was determined that the form of localized masculinity promoted through the observed physical education class did in fact coincide with Connell’s (2005) definition of hegemonic masculinity. Additionally, three overarching themes were revealed: Space as a multifarious commodity, Physical education as a void, and Teacher as cog. These themes, along with their associated findings, supported the assertion that traditional, team-sport centric physical education serves to galvanize a patriarchal, social order through the delivery of a strict, hegemonically masculine script. Ultimately, this study concludes by providing suggestions for policy makers, physical education teachers, teacher educators, and researchers along with directions for future research.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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