Schooling the Body as Venture Capital: A Genealogy of Sport as a Modern Technology of Perfection, Domination and Political Economy

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Holmes, Paloma
Sport, Body, Modernity, Genealogy, Foucault, Rose
From a normative perspective, sport is often viewed as a form of benign entertainment and an optimal vehicle for health and community development devoid of political bias. This thesis examines the way sport has been constructed and mobilized as an instrument of neoliberalism, especially through a nexus of biopedagogies that instruct ways of knowing, ordering and conditioning bodies. Historically, sport's instrumental role to the politics of governance similarly continues to be a powerful way and useful vehicle to exercise dominance and mastery over one's own body, nature and others. Building upon the work of Michel Foucault and Nikolas Rose, I contend that psy-prefixed disciplines that surfaced from Western capitalism play a distinct role in mobilizing sport to reconfigure the body in such a way that it serves political economic goals. This thesis offers a sociological approach to critically examine the disciplining of the body through sport with the intent to foster moral development, social inclusion and peace-building according to a neoliberal framework of health. Drawing from Foucault’s work as a kind of theoretical toolbox to inform a geneaology, with some archaeological examples, of the biocitizen as he or she has been made a useful subject of neoliberal health. This geneaology addresses the shifts and splits in the human sciences that have contributed to the ubiquity of psy- practices and disciplining techniques that shape the youth education of bodies, movement and physicality. Foucault’s notion of “dividing practices” and the relational interdependency of what is constructed as normal or deviant, reveals a co-dependent producing of the self and its normalization as well as the problematizing and policing of the “other.” These systems of difference undermine the diversity of physical cultures and practices while also creating a binary oriented approach to healthism discourses, which effectively order, dominate and subordinate specific bodies, thereby furthering networks of inequality and exclusion. Finally, the last section turns to the period of modern aestheticism, theatre performance and critical pedagogy in order to rethink possibilities of sport beyond the present limits of the competitive capitalist rubric that shapes body knowledges and practices in current physical education.
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