Physical Education, Power, and the Cultural Politics of the Young Turkish Body

  • Elizabeth Molton

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


This research enquiry builds on and contributes to studies in the field of physical education, focusing specifically on pupils’ experiences of Year 12 physical education in a private secondary phase school in Turkey. Although there is scholarly work that examines the performance of gender in the physical education curriculum, there is little work attempting to interrogate the relationships between young people’s bodies, physicality, and the social landscape of a school. There has been even less work in the cultural context of Turkey that maps the various social forces which guide and determine the participants’ own physical education subjectivities. The research enquiry utilises physical cultural studies sensibilities that are based at the borders of inter-locking paradigmatic approaches. I am critically self-reflexive throughout the research enquiry as I represent, articulate, and rework the young people’s experiences gleaned from participant observations and interviews. An important finding to emerge from these narratives is the desire to reclaim the fun and play elements in physical education. However, the yearn to have fun in physical education becomes problematic when juxtaposed against the disempowering body practices surrounding engagement in the subject. In fact the workings of the body are afforded only a few positive comments from participants. The engagement of the participants in physical education thus contrasts with the performative and health discourses currently shaping Western physical education policies and curriculum practices. This research enquiry produces value-relevant knowledge to inform scholars and practitioners, aiming at a greater understanding of pupils’ experiences of the self, and opens future avenues for discussion when revising physical education policies, curricula, and practices. Furthermore, the research enquiry adds new insights into how the participants negotiate their own physicality and subjectivities in a physical education setting where Eastern and Western cultures meet, intersect, and collide.
Date of Award18 Nov 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorMichael Silk (Supervisor) & Emma Rich (Supervisor)


  • Physical Education
  • cultural politics

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