Sporting embodiments: Sports studies and the (continuing) promise of phenomenology

In M. Giardina & M. Donnelly (eds.), Physical Culture, Ethnography and the Body: Theory, Method and Praxis. Abingdon, UK: (2017)
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Abstract
Whilst in recent years sports studies have addressed the calls ‘to bring the body back in’ to theorisations of sport and physical activity, the ‘promise of phenomenology’ remains largely under-realised with regard to sporting embodiment. Relatively few accounts are grounded in the ‘flesh’ of the lived sporting body, and phenomenology offers a powerful framework for such analysis. A wide-ranging, multi-stranded, and interpretatively contested perspective, phenomenology in general has been taken up and utilised in very different ways within different disciplinary fields. The purpose of this article is to consider some selected phenomenological threads, key qualities of the phenomenological method, and the potential for existentialist phenomenology in particular to contribute fresh perspectives to the sociological study of embodiment in sport and exercise. It offers one way to convey the ‘essences’, corporeal immediacy and textured sensuosity of the lived sporting body. The use of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) is also critically addressed.
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