Using visual methodologies to understand pre-service Health and Physical Education teachers’ subjectivities of bodies

Valeria Varea, Bonnie Pang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (SciVal)


Socio-cultural theorists have argued that having a diverse understanding of subjectivities of normal/ideal bodies is important for Health and Physical Education (HPE) teachers. When teachers hold a single understanding and perception of normal/ideal bodies, such as a thin body as normal or ideal body, which are usually informed by dominant discourses, they may (re)produce narrow understandings of bodies among their students. This paper focuses on how a group of pre-service HPE specialist teachers (11 females and 3 males, aged between 18 and 26 at the time of the first interview) from an Australian university, discuss issues related to subjectivities of bodies. It draws on visual methodologies and semi-structured interviews to understand how these pre-service HPE specialist teachers construct discourses of bodies. Foucault’s concepts of normalisation, surveillance and biopedagogies are used to explore discursive constructions of bodies, with a particular focus on how some discourses are normalised via surveillance techniques. The results of the study invite us to reflect on how images may promote certain ways of thinking about and considering the body among pre-service HPE specialist teachers. In light of contradictions which were found across the comments of two participants who constructed different discourses during the interviews, we posit that making sense of subjectivities of bodies is complex and often contradictory. Furthermore, the results suggest that photo elicitation is a useful visual method for theorising issues related to bodies. Results can inform teacher education and policy in how to better prepare pre-service HPE teachers to teach about bodies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)394-406
Number of pages13
JournalSport, Education and Society
Issue number5
Early online date7 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • biopedagogies
  • bodies
  • normalisation
  • photo elicitation
  • Pre-service Health and Physical Education teachers
  • surveillance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Education


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