1st Edition

Women, Horseracing and Gender Becoming 'One of the Lads'

By Deborah Butler Copyright 2018
    204 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    204 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    How do the class and gender inequalities found in horseracing affect the working practices of women within the industry? Drawing on the work of Bourdieu and his concepts of field, capital and habitus, this book shows the inequalities that are prevalent within the world of racing, both historically and currently, by illustrating the classed and gendered nature of racing and how it has developed since the eighteenth century when it was the sport of the aristocracy. Using research obtained through her year-long ethnographic study of a racing yard, Deborah Butler demonstrates that the racing field is an arena of power conflicts, and that men and women who work in racing acquire a contradictorily gendered racing habitus. This is achieved by learning certain elements in a formal setting but mainly informally, by ‘doing’, developing practical skills and participating in a (gendered) community of practice. For female stable staff this means adapting their behaviour and working practices in order to be accepted as ‘one of the lads’. This book will appeal to both scholars and students of the sociology of sport, the sociology of work and gender studies.

    Table of contents

    List of Tables

    List of Figures

    Preface and Introduction


    Glossary of Terms


    1. Introducing the Field

    2. Changing Class and Gender Relations in the Horseracing Industry

    3. ‘Sitting by Nellie’ – Learning through Practice

    4. Embodying Gender in the Racing Field

    5. Modern Apprenticeship

    6. Becoming a Racehorse

    7. Female Masculinity or Male Femininity



    Deborah Butler worked for many years as a ‘lad’ in the horseracing industry. She currently divides her time between working as a researcher at the University of Warwick for Warwick Manufacturing Group, as well as continuing to work in her spare time as a ‘lad’, riding out racehorses for a local racehorse trainer. Her background is in sociology although her research into Indentured and Modern Apprenticeship in the Horseracing Industry – A Gendered Analysis was interdisciplinary, drawing on social history, anthropology and sociology.