Risky bodies, risky spaces, maternal ‘instincts’: swimming and motherhood

Journal article


Williams, R., Evans, A. and Allen-Collinson, J. 2016. Risky bodies, risky spaces, maternal ‘instincts’: swimming and motherhood. International Review for the Sociology of Sport. 52 (8), p. 972–991.
AuthorsWilliams, R., Evans, A. and Allen-Collinson, J.
Abstract

Swimming and aquatic activity are fields in which gendered, embodied identities are brought to the fore, and the co-presence of other bodies can have a significant impact upon lived experiences. To date, however, there has been little research on sport and physical cultures that investigates how meanings associated with space impact upon women’s embodied experiences of participating in swimming, specifically in the presence of their young children. Using semi-structured interviews and non-participant observations, this qualitative study employed a Foucauldian-feminist framework to explore self-perceptions and embodied experiences of aquatic activity amongst 20 women, who were swimming with children aged under 4. Results highlight that through ‘felt’ maternal responsibilities, the co-presence of babies’ and children’s bodies shifted women’s intentionality away from the self towards their child. Mothers’ embodied experiences were grounded in perceptions of space-specific ‘maternal instincts’ and focused upon disciplining their children’s bodies in the lived-space of the swimming pool. Key findings cohere around mothers’ felt concerns about hygiene, water temperature and safety, and elements of intercorporeality and ‘somatic empathy’.

KeywordsSwimming; Gender ; Foucault ; Embodiment ; Motherhood ; Intercorporeality
Year2016
JournalInternational Review for the Sociology of Sport
Journal citation52 (8), p. 972–991
PublisherSage
ISSN1012-6902
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1177/1012690216633444
Official URLhttps://doi.org/10.1177/1012690216633444
Publication dates
Online01 Mar 2016
Print01 Dec 2017
Publication process dates
Deposited27 Feb 2020
Accepted author manuscript
File Access Level
Open
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https://repository.canterbury.ac.uk/item/8qx19/risky-bodies-risky-spaces-maternal-instincts-swimming-and-motherhood

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