Transformations, Challenges and Potentials in Nordic Sport

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Sport is a notoriously gendered, conservative and reluctantly changing societal field - also in the Nordics where the globalization, marketization and digitalization trends have posed old and new challenges for both top-athletes as well as sporting youth in the grassroots. However, there are tendencies in the Nordic governments and national sport organizations to act more progressively in addressing issues of gender and discrimination in sport. Recent cases include the Norwegian women’s beach handball team which protested against the outfit requirements for women at the European Beach Handball Championships and was later fined by the European Handball Federation for wearing shorts instead of bikinis. Simultaneously, different international gendered tensions are issues related to the inclusion of trans* and non-binary athletes in both elite and grassroots sport. Here, many Nordic sport bodies often operate progressively in comparison to other national sport organizations, yet given the binary structure of international sporting competitions, the tensions persist. At the same time, the rapid rise of virtual sports such as esports, challenges the gendered logics of sports.

These current challenges of Nordic sport organizations among others concerning gendered discrimination, racialization, homophobia and ableism, call upon innovative research that engages with the epistemologies and ontologies of sport, sex and gender. To address such complex issues interdisciplinary discussions are especially needed.

The session invites papers engaging with contemporary tensions, challenges and potentials in Nordic sport. Contributions can be empirical, theoretical or methodological and aim to discuss gender, sex or intersectionality in elite sport, international or national sport organizations, sport politics, esports or grassroots sport. Papers that address the current challenges regarding the onto-epistemological question of gender-non-conforming bodies and identities or postcolonial and decolonial analyses of sport are especially welcome.

The working language of the session is English.


Saara Isosomppi is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at Nord University with deep affection for gender and feminist research, especially in relation to physical movement, body, play and sport. Her current ethnographic PhD project concerns Finnish youth sport as an affective space, its tensions and potentialities and the peer-relations of girls in their hobby. Her theoretical interests lay especially in the materiality and affectivity of sport spaces and physical cultures. She previously has a Master’s degree in Social Sciences of Sport from the University of Jyväskylä, Finland.

Anna Adlwarth is a doctoral student in Sociology at Nord University and a member of the research group Sport and Society. Her doctoral thesis is about gender-non-conforming athletes, bodies and identities in elite sporting competition. Her research interests lay in the history and sociology of science and medicine as well as queer sport studies and de- and postconstructivits thought. She obtained a MA in Gender Studies from the University of Gratz, Austria and a MA in Applied Linguistics from the University of Vienna.

Egil Trasti Rogstad is a Ph.D. candidate in the Faculty of Social Sciences at Nord University, Norway. His research area includes issues related to gendered inequalities and power relations in esports, focusing on esports as a site for the construction and contestation of identity and culture.

Anne Tjønndal is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Nord University, and Adjunct Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology and Political Science, NTNU. Tjønndal leads the research group Sport and Society at Nord University. Her research interests include gender and leadership in sport, women’s boxing, sports coaching, innovation and technology in sport. Her work is published in a variety of journals such as European Journal of Women's Studies, Sociology of Sport Journal, The European Journal of Sport Science, and Tidsskrift for kjønnsforskning, to mention some. She is the author of five books, of which the latest is Idrett, Kjønn og Ledelse (Fagbokforlaget, 2021) and Social Innovation in Sport (Palgrave macmillan, 2021). In 2019 she was awarded the Celia Brackenridge International Research Award for excellence in scholarship on women and sport. Tjønndal is a member of The Young Academy of Norway (AYF).

Published Sep. 21, 2021 10:36 AM - Last modified Sep. 24, 2021 1:05 PM