Women's Artistic Gymnastics: Socio-cultural Perspectives, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Women's Artistic Gymnastics

Socio-cultural Perspectives, 1st Edition

Edited by Roslyn Kerr, Natalie Barker-Ruchti, Carly Stewart, Gretchen Kerr


264 pages | 6 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9780367440015
pub: 2020-04-28
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This book lifts the lid on the high pressured, complex world of women’s artistic gymnastics. By adopting a socio-cultural lens incorporating historical, sociological and psychological perspectives, it takes the reader through the story and workings of women’s artistic gymnastics.

Beginning with its early history as a ‘feminine appropriate’ sport, the book follows the sport through its transition to a modern sports form. Including global cases and innovative narrative methods, it explores the way gymnasts have experienced its intense challenges, the complexities of the coach-athlete relationship, and how others involved in the sport, such as parents and medical personnel, have contributed to the reproduction of a highly demanding and potentially abusive sporting culture.

With the focus on a unique women’s sport, the book is an important read for researchers and students studying sport sociology, sport coaching, and physical education, but it is also a valuable resource for anyone interested in the development of sporting talent.

Table of Contents


Roslyn Kerr, Natalie Barker-Ruchti, Carly Stewart and Gretchen Kerr

Part I: The History, Politics, Commercialisation and Diversification of Women and Girls

Jenny’s Story: Part I - Frank

1. Acrobatization and establishment of pixie-style Women and Girls

Georgia Cervin

2. Perfectionization of Women and Girls

Georgia Cervin

3. The commercialization of Women and Girls since the 1980s

Georgia Cervin, Elizabeth Booth and Diana Dumitriu

4. Diversification of Women and Girls since the fall of Communism

Natalie Barker-Ruchti, Elizabeth Booth, Francesca Cavallerio, Georgia Cervin, Diana Dumitriu, Myrian Nunomura and Froukje Smits

Part II: The Gymnast Experience

Jenny’s Story: Part II - An Unexpected Event

5. Living with stories of gymnastics in higher education

Carly Stewart and Michele Carbinatto

6. Media narratives of gymnasts’ abusive experiences: Keep smiling and point your toes

Ashley Stirling, Alexia Tam, Aalaya Milne and Gretchen Kerr

7. Trampoline gymnasts’ body-self narratives of the leotard: A seamless fit?

Rhiannon Lord and Carly Stewart

Part III: Coach-Athlete Relationships

Jenny’s Story: Part III - Worries and Pressures

8. Power in Coach-Athlete Relationships: The Case of the Women Artistic Gymnastics

Sophia Jowett and Svenja Wachsmuth

9. When the Coach-Athlete Relationship Influences Vulnerability to Sexual Abuse of Female Artistic Gymnasts

Gretchen Kerr, Ashley Stirling and Erin Willson

10. Critical Reflections on (Adult) Coach-(Child) Athlete ‘No Touch’ Discourses in Women and Girls: Out of Touch

Melanie Lang and Joanne McVeigh

Part IV: The Multiple Actors Involved in Creating an Elite Gymnast

Jenny’s Story: Part IV - Enough’s Enough

11. The sorting of gymnasts: An Actor-Network Theory approach to examining talent identification and development in Women and Girls

Roslyn Kerr

12. Using a multilevel model to critically examine the grooming process of emotional abusive practices in Women and Girls

Froukje Smits, Frank Jacobs and Annelies Knoppers

13. A figurational approach to women’s artistic gymnastics

Claudia Pinheiro and Nuno Pimenta

14. Navigating sports medical practice in women’s artistic gymnastics: a socio-cultural analysis

Astrid Schubring and Natalie Barker-Ruchti


Roslyn Kerr, Natalie Barker-Ruchti, Carly Stewart and Gretchen Kerr

About the Editors

Roslyn Kerr is Associate Professor in Sociology of Sport and Dean of the Faculty of Environment, Society and Design at Lincoln University in New Zealand.

Natalie Barker-Ruchti is Associate Professor in the Division of Sport Science, School of Health Sciences, Örebro University, Sweden.

Carly Stewartis Head of Department of Sport and Event Management at Bournemouth University, UK.

Gretchen Kerr is Professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education at the University of Toronto, Canada.

About the Series

Women, Sport and Physical Activity

The Women, Sport and Physical Activity series showcases work by leading international researchers and emerging scholars that offers new perspectives on the involvement of women in sport and physical activity. The series is interdisciplinary in scope, drawing on sociology, cultural studies, history, politics, gender studies, leisure studies, psychology, exercise science and coaching studies, and consists of two main strands: thematic volumes addressing key global issues in the study of women, sport and physical activity; and sport-specific volumes, each of which offers an overview of women’s participation and leadership in a particular sport.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Women's Studies
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sexual Abuse & Harassment
SPORTS & RECREATION / Sociology of Sports