Football Culture in an Australian School Setting: The Construction of Masculine Identity

Ian Burgess, Allan Edwards, James Skinner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


This paper argues that teenage males draw variously on signifying contexts in football to construct their understandings of who they 'are'. As such, football is a widely revered human activity that is strongly implicated in the construction of masculine identity. By examining how football has evolved as a site of controlled masculinity, and how involvement in football is imbued with a dominant set of meanings about what constitutes a 'normal' male, this article will indicate how identity formation for young males is a precarious process. Furthermore, by drawing predominantly on the research of Burgess [(1992) TGs, dags and normals: the construction of masculinity in a ruling-class school (unpublished honours thesis, Griffith University, Brisbane); (1998) Struggle and performance: the construction and identity for teenage males (unpublished PhD thesis, Griffith University, Gold Coast)], in an Australian school setting, it will illustrate that for teenage males there is a seductive resonance in the narrative that violence and toughness in football is indicative of a natural predisposition in 'real' males. Contrary to popular belief though, performances of toughness and violence in sport are not evidence of a preexisting masculine condition but are the constituents of a reiterative process that equates sporting prowess with a particular typology of self. Consequently, involvement in sport is not a guarantee of an oppressive presentation of self, but sport's signifying logic makes such a presentation of self a realisable and accessible option.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-212
Number of pages14
JournalSport, Education and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2003
Externally publishedYes


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