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Femininity, Childhood and the Non-Making of a Sporting Celebrity: The Beth Tweddle Case

Cohen, R. L. (2013). Femininity, Childhood and the Non-Making of a Sporting Celebrity: The Beth Tweddle Case. Sociological Research Online, 18(3), pp. 178-187. doi: 10.5153/sro.3193


Gymnastics is regularly classified as a feminine-appropriate sport, embodying grace and elegance and is an Olympic sport which has regularly produced female sporting celebrities. Beth Tweddle is the most successful British gymnast of all time and the first to achieve international success, culminating in a medal at London 2012, yet she has received relatively little media coverage and few corporate endorsements. Employing a 'negative case' methodology, this athlete's relative lack of celebrity is investigated. The article suggests that it can be explained by (a) contradictions underpinning the gender-designation of gymnastics, and (b) the social invisibility of a core audience for the sport: young girls. An implication is that the achievement of celebrity within 'feminine' sport may be increasingly unattainable, especially for female athletes. The article uses mixed methods, including primary analysis of print and social media and secondary analysis of a national survey of young people in the UK.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: Sociology of Sport, Gender, Femininity, Gymnastics, Media, Young girls, Mixed methods
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
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SWORD Depositor:
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