Throughout history, following feminist or other reflexive and tradition-breaking paradigms, the binary division of gender (man and woman) that exists has become clear. The stereotypes concerning both genders are so deeply enshrined in our minds that we find it difficult to let go of conventional thinking; and easily impart these ideals into all facets of society, including sport. This stereotypical thinking is a catalyst for gender inequities not only in sport, but society as a whole. Our perception regarding the differences between sportsmen and women stems from hegemonic ideals of masculine dominance that date back to the ancient Olympics. Although equality between genders is gradually percolating the world of sport, agents of socialisation persist in fuelling the conventional thinking that is the source of gender inequities ever-present in our culture. Of these agents, mass media is the chief culprit. The connection between sport, gender and media is blatant, especially in the sport of beach volleyball. In fact it is one of few unisex sports where the female athletes are dominating the arena in terms popularity and media attention. But for what reasons? This is a question that will be answered in this report. Throughout this analysis, the influence that marketing and media has on sport and its capability to reinforce Australian society’s views of gender roles will be evaluated. In particular, the implications of marketing and media will be analysed in relation to the sport of beach volleyball.
Sociology is a branch of social science that concerns itself with studies of the social life of human groups and individuals. It encompasses patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture. Whether it is scientific or systematic, sociology is basically the study of society. Society’s make-up comprises people, groups, networks, institutions and organisations. It is basically a large-scale system composed of many parts known as microcosms. 1,2 One such microcosm is the sociology of sport. Sport is an important part of everyday social life around the world. The Olympic Games, soccer’s World Cup, the Tour de France, Wimbledon and the Super Bowl are worldwide events that capture the interests of billions of people. Although it’s not just sporting events on a global-scale that make this microcosm important, sport in general is a culture that seems to have an unwavering ability to provide reason for social interaction between individuals or groups of people; shaping our perception of the world.3
Sports sociology is a sub-discipline of sociology that focuses on sport as a social phenomenon. There are several areas of research covered by sports sociology. However, the main field that will relate to this report is sport and socialisation. Socialisation is a fundamental concept throughout the social sciences and explains the process by which individuals learn to conform to social norms and learn how to behave in ways appropriate to their culture. It includes learning the cultural attitudes, values and roles of society. In short, socialisation is the transmission of culture into all facets of society, including sport.
Australian sport is an institution of enormous significance, particularly in relation to the construction and maintenance of gender patterns. “A common view is that the institution of sport is one of our most gender-traditional social arrangements which fosters sexism and support for patriarchy.” (Harry, 1995) 10 Sport is one of the most prominent and hegemonic social institutions and cultural practices in society today. It is hegemonic if it is widely accepted in a culture and when that acceptance reinforces the dominant gender ideology of the culture. 7,8 Hegemonic masculinity is a particularly idealised form, stressing toughness and competitiveness, and claiming superiority over women. Even though women are now more widely accepted, they still have to find a place within the existing patriarchal...
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