Body, Sports and Work

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 3:45 PM
Room: Booth 66
Oral Presentation
Michele GREGORY , Social Sciences, City University of New York, Jamaica, NY
Organizations, from financial institutions, government bodies to hospitals are important spaces for understanding the relationship between sports, bodies and production.  This relationship is particularly vital when employers use competitive sports to construct hegemonic masculinities, which sometimes affect workplace opportunities for the disabled, immigrants, working classes and ethnic, racial, gender and sexual minorities.  In a recent lawsuit filed by former female employees of Goldman Sachs, one alleged that ‘golf’, ‘push-up contests’ and ‘other physical pursuits’ represented the culture of the trading floor (Lattman 2010, p. B1).  Other corporations, such as Morgan Stanley have actually settled gender discrimination lawsuits ($46 million) and the use of male sports was notable (Anderson 2007, p. C18).  These lawsuits illustrate that competitive male sports are used by employers as a form of cultural capital, excluding women and possibly ‘others’ who have no interest in sports and who do not fit the athletic male model of fitness.

Using empirical case studies, I will apply the concept that I call ‘sportswork’ to describe and analyse how white collar professionals in non-sport organizations use sport in the workplace to engage in a number of practices, such as symbolic practices, actual practices and exclusionary practices.  Sports is not devoid of power and social relations – class, disabled, gender, immigrant status, racial and sexuality (van Ingen, 2003) – therefore the paper will also illustrate how sportwork is used by employees to manage their bodies and how it shapes employees’ perceptions of their and others bodies.


- Anderson, J. 2007, ‘Wall St. Firm Will Settle Sex Bias Suit’, New York Times, 25 April.

- Lattman, M. 2010, ‘3 Women Claim Bias at Goldman’, New York Times, 16 September.

- van Ingen, C. (2003), ‘Geographies of Gender, Sexuality and Race’, International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 38/ 2, pp. 201-216.