Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Recently, physical education researchers have been concerned about the results of national studies reporting young people's low level of participation in physical activity and health problems associated with inactivity. In general girls are less active than boys, and youth from low socioeconomic classes are less active and are more likely be unhealthy than middle or upper class youth. Blacks have the highest risks of health problems and the highest levels of physical inactivity. Among a number of recommendations included in Healthy People 2010, physical education has been identified as a fundamental site for addressing today's challenges. According to physical education researchers, one way to address these issues is to continue investigations that examine the body from a socially constructed perspective and explore how social constructions of the body relate to individuals' participation in physical activity. From this theoretical view, racialized and gendered ideologies about the body may encourage or constrain individuals' participation in physical activity. Feminist post-structuralist and post-modernist theories have been utilized to further this research line. The purpose of this dissertation was to explore how high school students constructed meanings about the body and how these meanings related to their participation in their physical education classes. Quantitative and qualitative methodologies were employed. The quantitative method entailed the administration of a survey to assess the importance of Bodily Meanings and Discursive Constructs to 529 high school students in three public schools in the southeastern area of the United States. An ethnographic design was employed in four 9th grade physical education classes in two public high schools. This qualitative phase included an observational period of the classes and formal interviews with 28 high school students and three physical education teachers. Findings in this study provide evidence of gender and racial differences in high school students' construction of meanings about the body and demonstrate these gender and racial differences were influential in students' participation in physical education classes. Suggestions are provided for reconceptualizing the physical education curriculum by destabilizing the gendered and racialized body and degendering and deracializing physical education practices.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Melinda Solmon



Included in

Kinesiology Commons