Graduation Year

2008

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Political Science

Major Professor

Mark Amen, Ph.D.

Keywords

Globalization, Media, Masculinity, Femininity, Olympics

Abstract

This research seeks to explore the gendered nature of nationalisms and the ways that they can be challenged and perhaps transformed through the participation of women in sport at the national level. Nationalism is part of the public sphere, while women have historically been relegated to the private sphere. However, many scholars argue that women do in fact taken part in nation building primarily as biological reproducers of the nation. This has led scholars to conclude that nationalism is indeed gendered. Sport has traditionally been a masculine domain where conceptions of hegemonic masculinity as well as the nation are developed and reinforced. However within the last thirty years women's participation in sport, specifically at the national-elite level has risen dramatically. This research seeks to explore how women's increased participation in the nationalistic and masculine domain of sport will affect nationalism.

To discover how the increase in women's participation in national sport may or may not be affecting nationalism, two exploratory case studies were conducted focusing on the media coverage of the Summer and Winter Olympic Games between 1972 and 2008. The cases used in the analysis were Canada and India. For each case, a large, English-language, national daily newspaper was selected as a data source and the articles covering women athletes during the Olympic Games were collected, subjected to a basic form of content analysis and then categorized into one of three categories. Individual women athletes featured in the articles were also analyzed as well. The findings of this study reveal that Indian and Canadian nationalism were affected by the increase in women's participation in sport. However, the study also demonstrates the ways in which media continues to feminize women athletes in order to make them socially acceptable.

Despite this, the study reinforces the idea that sport remains a valuable space where women can challenge traditional gender ideals within a nationalisms.

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