Leeds Beckett University
AnIndifferenceToDifferenceExploringTheIntersectionsOfDisabilityEthnicityAndGenderWithinPhysicalEducation-BRAZIER.pdf (4.9 MB)

An Indifference to Indifference?

Download (4.9 MB)
posted on 2022-08-03, 08:22 authored by Ruth Brazier

Historically, practice within physical education (PE) has tended to treat students the same, without accounting for difference. This has generated much research interest within the field. Importantly, research on difference and experience within PE has commonly adopted a ‘single-issue’ approach, which considers individual identity positions in isolation (Penney, 2002). For example, there have been many studies which consider the influence of disability or ethnicity or gender (for example, Hills, 2007; Barker, 2017; Maher et al., 2019a). In contrast, this research attends to notions of difference within PE by utilising an intersectional framework. This builds on a growing body of research in PE that adopts this framework (for example, Oliver and Hamzeh, 2010; Stride, 2014; Haegele et al., 2018; Thorjussen and Sisjord, 2018). Inspired by the core principles of intersectionality, outlined by Hill Collins and Bilge (2016), I specifically focus upon the intersections of disability, ethnicity and gender to explore how multiple differences influence girls’ experiences in PE. Data generation took place over a two-year period in a secondary school in the north of England. This school has higher than the national average numbers of ethnic-minority students (90%) and students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (15%). Thirteen girls aged 11 and 12 took part in a qualitative research project, ‘PE and Me’, which included focus group discussions and the generation of research artefacts. Data were also generated through observations before, during and after the ‘PE and Me’ project. Data analysis involved two phases. First, I adopted a storyteller position, presenting each student’s experience in the form of a narrative. Second, I took a narrative analyst position (Smith, 2016a), drawing out patterns and themes emerging from all of the narratives. The findings demonstrate the complex and fluid nature of each girl’s experience in PE. Experiences are influenced by a myriad of factors, including the structure and delivery of PE, the context of the school, and peer relationships. The complex construction of identity leads to different experiences as the girls move across spaces and interact with different people, leading to moments of privilege and marginalisation. These findings have important implications for future research within PE, calling for a more nuanced understanding of sameness and difference, and a more critical examination of the methodological approaches used when researching with students. Moreover, this thesis calls for practitioners to better recognise the ways in which differences are created through practice, to ensure a more equitable experience is had by all.No description supplied


Qualification name

  • PhD


Hayley Fitzgerald; Annette Stride

Awarding Institution

Leeds Beckett University

Completion Date


Usage metrics

    LBU Theses and Dissertations


    No categories selected



    Ref. manager