“No pain, no gain”: Former elite female gymnasts’ engagement with pain and injury discourses
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AbstractThis research investigates the discourses influential in former elite female artistic gymnasts' engagement with pain and injury. The purpose of this study was to examine participants' engagement with pain and injury discourses and interrogate the ways in which certain discourses became dominant. Despite extensive sociological research providing exposure to the ways in which athletes experience pain and injury, there is little research into gymnasts' experiences. Therefore, this research not only contributes to the sociological literature on pain and injury, but also provides a complimentary addition to the efforts towards injury prevention from the medical, epidemiological and psychological perspectives. A poststructural, Foucauldian theoretical framework underpins this study, which makes overt use of Foucault's work on discourses, techniques of power and technologies of the self. Data were generated through semi-structured interviews with seven former elite female artistic gymnasts, who were asked to reflect on their experiences with pain and injury. By analysing participants’ talk through poststructural discourse analysis, three main discourses were evident. Firstly, participants' persistence through pain and injury was due to the desire to compete. Secondly, participants were able to differentiate between "good pain" and "bad pain". Thirdly, participants had a higher tolerance for pain than for injury. Participants engaged with these discourses in multiple and sometimes conflicting ways. Ultimately however, these discourses were normalised through a combination of disciplinary techniques and technologies of the self. Therefore, this research raises serious questions about the ways in which gymnasts may develop an uncritical acceptance of the 'truths' surrounding pain and injury.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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