Women's Artistic Gymnastics : Socio-cultural Perspectives book cover
1st Edition

Women's Artistic Gymnastics
Socio-cultural Perspectives

ISBN 9780367440015
Published April 28, 2020 by Routledge
258 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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's artistic gymnastics


Jenny’s story: Part I - Frank


1.          Acrobatization and establishment of pixie-style women’s artistic gymnastics

Georgia Cervin


2.          Perfectionization of women’s artistic gymnastics

Georgia Cervin


3.          The commercialization of women’s artistic gymnastics since the 1980s

Georgia Cervin, Elizabeth Booth and Diana Dumitriu


4.          Diversification of women’s artistic gymnastics 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 sory: 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’s artistic gymnastics

Sophia Jowett and Svenja Wachsmuth


9.          When the coach-athlete relationship influences vulnerability to sexual abuse of women’s artistic gymnasts

            Gretchen Kerr, Ashley Stirling and Erin Willson


10.        Critical reflections on (adult) coach-(child) athlete ‘no touch’ discourses in women’s artistic gymnastics: 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’s artistic gymnastics

Roslyn Kerr


12.        Using a multilevel model to critically examine the grooming process of emotional abusive practices in women’s artistic gymnastics

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

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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 Stewart is 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.