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‘I want to look like that’: healthism, the ideal body and physical education in a Scottish secondary school

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-473
Number of pages17
JournalDiscourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education
Issue number3
Early online date29 Aug 2012
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2013


Teachers and pupils are increasingly inundated with power laden truths' regarding health and the body as they attempt to construct their subjectivities. Drawing on insights from the works of Foucault, namely technologies of power and technologies of the self, this study investigated how healthism and ideal body discourses were (re)produced, negotiated, taken up and resisted by pupils and Physical Education (PE) teachers in one Scottish secondary school. Using semi-structured interviews, we found that pupil and teacher discourses varied in the way they influenced their thoughts and practices. Analysis of the data indicated that discourses can be resisted and (re)interpreted. In many cases, this was not without the creation of internal tension for pupils. Teachers demonstrated an understanding of the salience of these discourses, and their increased responsibility for health issues, but also internalised truth' differently. The study concludes by recommending the introduction of a critical enquiry focus around the construction of health in Scottish PE.

    Research areas

  • healthism, physical education, discourses, power, truth, health and well-being, ADOLESCENT GIRLS, OBESITY, CONTEXT, WOMENS, BODIES

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