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School of Applied Social Sciences

SASS Staff

Publication details for Dr Mark McCormack

Adams, A., Anderson, E. & McCormack, M. (2010). Establishing and challenging masculinity: The influence of gendered discourses in organized sport. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 29(3): 278-300.

Author(s) from Durham


This study examined how coaches and players constructed and regulated masculinity in organized sport. Using participant observation, the authors examined the role of discourses in the construction and regulation of sporting masculinity within a semiprofessional British football (soccer) team. Two predominant discourses were present: (a) masculinity establishing discourse and (b) masculinity challenging discourse—heuristic tools to understand the use of toxic language in the construction and maintenance of masculinity. Coaches frequently used discourses that drew on narratives of war, gender, and sexuality to facilitate aggressive and violent responses for enhancing athletic performance. However, the authors also found that these discourses have limited influence beyond the playing field, highlighting the segmentation of the sporting and social identities of these players and a loosening of the traditional and empirically evidenced ability of sports to socialize men into narrow forms of masculinity.