It's more than a game: Little boys, masculinities and football culture

Year: 2002

Author: Keddie, Amanda

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Through a description of a study into children's (young males) informal peer group relations this paper illuminates the interrelatedness of the gender and (hetero)sexual binaries underpinning boys' dominant understandings of masculinity and how these binaries parallel with their understandings of, and investments in, football culture. This paper foregrounds, through a snapshot of the study's data presented as a narrative, the significant role football played in providing a vehicle through which the boys could successfully perform, validate and perpetuate a desired masculinity as epitomised by physical dominance and violence within essentialist perceptions of gender and (hetero)sexuality as difference and opposition. Through feminist poststructural analysis which enables a theorising of masculinities as fluid, tenuous and often characterised by contradiction and resistance, the paper argues the importance of interrupting and re-working these understandings and explores practical ways through which these binaries might begin to be deconstructed in the sphere of early primary education. Within a framework of social justice, underpinned by anti-sexist and anti-homophobic principles, ways through which schools can facilitate the development of more affirmative but equally legitimate understandings and embodiments are explored.