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'I didn't even know that there was such a thing as aboriginal games': a figurational account of how Indigenous students experience physical education

Williams, John

Sport, education and society. Volume 23:Number 5 (2018, June 13th); pp 462-474 -- Routledge

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  • Title:
    'I didn't even know that there was such a thing as aboriginal games': a figurational account of how Indigenous students experience physical education
  • Author: Williams, John
  • Found In: Sport, education and society. Volume 23:Number 5 (2018, June 13th); pp 462-474
  • Journal Title: Sport, education and society
  • Subjects: Physical education and training--Periodicals; School sports--Periodicals; Sports--Periodicals; Figurational sociology--habitus--physical education--Indigenous traditional games--social power; Dewey: 796.07
  • Rights: Licensed
  • Publication Details: Routledge
  • Abstract: ABSTRACT:

    This article is about how Indigenous students from Year 7 to 10 at three government schools in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) experience PE. The research question being, how do Indigenous students experience PE at the schools selected for the research? A process oriented approach was used to answer this question. In particular, figurational sociology was chosen because of its usefulness in interpreting sociological problems processually. The idea of the figuration or configuration was utilized to represent human power relationships, as well as systems and processes. The study also drew upon the complimentary figurational concept of habitus. An accompanying methodology sympathetic to figurational sociology reconstructed the macro and micro levels of the figuration studied. This figuration being the PE provision across the three sites. The macro level depicts the contemporary social structure or 'rules' of the figuration and the micro level the individuals that exist within this social structure. Data were collected over a two year period using semi-structured interviews, school websites, school based documentation and wider ACT Education and Training Directorate system level documents. The research found that Indigenous students experience almost entirely Eurocentric PE that lacks acknowledgment of their own culture. The PE provided is an example of 'superior' knowledge characteristic of dominant groups. The research also showed that the habituses of key players such as principals, Health and Physical Education curriculum writers and teachers were pivotal as long-term processes in upholding Eurocentric PE content. The findings suggest that for Indigenous perspectives to be included in PE as stipulated in national level documentation, policy directives alone are inadequate. For meaningful change to take place alteration at the habitus level of the mentioned key players has to occur and such change requires a multi-faceted approach.


  • Identifier: System Number: ETOCvdc_100081786055.0x000001; Journal ISSN: 1357-3322; 10.1080/13573322.2016.1210118
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Physical Description: Electronic
  • Shelfmark(s): 8419.519500
  • UIN: ETOCvdc_100081786055.0x000001

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