Hegemony, Habitus and Identity in Japanese University Men's Rowing

McDonald, Brent ORCID: 0000-0002-7455-0940 (2005) Hegemony, Habitus and Identity in Japanese University Men's Rowing. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Investigating the intersections between sport, education, identity and culture provides insight into commonsense understandings of the social world and hence hegemony at play. Education in Japan is highly valued and is a site of not only academic learning but also explicit and implicit moral and social education. One of the primary vehicles of this moral and social education is located in sporting practice and the multitude of sports clubs that exist within the framework of the educational curriculum. Of significance is the 'cultural curriculum' embodied in the practices of members of a university rowing club. This thesis draws on my personal experience as a rugby player in Japan. Using the symbolic capital I accumulated allowed my ongoing involvement with a university rowing club over a period spanning almost six years. The logics and ideologies behind the practice of rowing are explored through ethnographic techniques that emerged as contact with the field grew. Reading the Japanese body opens a new and potentially enlightening paradigm of body culture and sport. Drawing upon theoretical perspectives of Gramsci, Bourdieu, Foucault, and others provides a 'mixed bag' of analytical devices, which, when fine tuned to Japanese sensibilities, offers to make sense of the regularities of the university rower's life. In particular Bourdieu's concepts of habitus, field and capital prove powerful. It is argued that University rowing, whilst not a major sport in Japan, occupies a unique space within sporting experience. Due to historical factors, its' pedagogical and hierarchical nature, and the day to day social and cultural interaction of its' members, university rowing facilitates the reproduction of a particular type of Japanese identity that has its roots in a particular past as much as a necessary present. The mechanisms of reproduction of this identity and its enduring nature are of significance. Being a member of the university rowing club is the central component of these student's lives. It is an all consuming existence that totally defines their use of time, body, and spirit. There is a "coming from" and "going to" trajectory involved in the habitus of each member and rowing is more than a sport for these young men. It is a home, family, foundation, social nexus and raison d'etre. Rowing is indeed a method par excellence for bodily discipline and spiritual development.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/441
Subjects Historical > RFCD Classification > 220000 Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts-General
Historical > RFCD Classification > 320000 Medical and Health Sciences
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Sport and Exercise Science
Keywords hegemony; habitus; identity; Japanese University; men's rowing
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