The sexual subjection of boys in organised male sport

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The man-boy sexual encounter, or male-child sexual abuse (MCSA), is a widespread, persistent social practice. The causes, or aetiology, of sex offending against children has been the topic of sustained research and theory for several decades (e.g. Finkelhor, 1984) and there is now a considerable literature on the impact of such activity on male victims (Spiegel, 2003). Recently, some research has enabled the stories of abused males to be considered in detail (e.g. Hunter, 1990a) and some social theorists have emphasized the importance of this endeavour (Plummer, 1995). Sexual exploitation and child sexual abuse (CSA) is a relatively recent addition to the study of sport (Brackenridge, 1994) and so far there has been no sustained attention given to the sexual subjection of the male child. This thesis develops the literature on sexual exploitation in sport by examining the experiences of men sexually abused in the context of sport. Feminist research has identified the gendered nature of sex offending and the role of patriarchy in this practice (e.g. Kelly, 1988) and similar, contextualised arguments have been made by scholars of sport (Brackenridge, 2001). However, explanatory accounts of CSA are deeply contested and psychological perspectives dominate the debate (Ward et al., 2006). Therefore, in considering MCSA in sport, a fundamental issue is how the sexual abuse of children is to be understood. This thesis draws upon the work of social theorist, Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002), and considers MCSA in sport through his theoretical framework. Utilising this framework, I develop an account of the relation between organised male-sport and the sexual abuse of boys where the actions of social agents are deeply embedded within the socio-cultural context. Ultimately, I offer a radical critique of sport, and the man-boy relation that lies at its heart.
Date of Award31 Jul 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Edge Hill University
SupervisorPAUL REYNOLDS (Director of Studies) & LEON CULBERTSON (Supervisor)


  • sport
  • boyhood
  • childhood sexual abuse
  • sexual subjection

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