Date of Graduation

Spring 5-2012

Level of Access

Restricted: Campus/Bates Community Only Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department or Program

Sociology

Number of Pages

136

Abstract

While the link between culture and sport is a complex and reciprocal relationship, this relationship both affects and is affected by normative understandings of gender. Given that the institution of sport is particularly gendered, sociological literature indicates that sport (and its intersection with culture) may be an ideal location to challenge gender norms. Drawing upon this literature and qualitative interviews, I examine how female rugby players use individual and group identities to create collective action for change, and present a possible challenge to gender norms within two distinct contexts: the United States and Argentina. In my analysis, I found that although the possibility to challenge gender norms through the concurrence of motivated identities exists in both the United States and Argentina, the differing cultural and gendered legacy of each nation shapes the discourse and actions of women in each setting. In the United States, where feminism has experienced significant advances, the women interviewed identified strongly as women who play rugby; however instead of advocating for explicitly gendered challenge to norms, they explained that other aspects of community building are more important avenues for their collect action. In contrast, in Argentina, where machismo still dominates all gendered relations, female rugby players try to negotiate their need to be feminine with their desires to play rugby like their male counterparts; despite conflicting ideas of femininity, these women’s accounts coincide to demonstrate that they believe rugby is an important method to challenge gender norms, both in sport and across society.

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