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By Emmanuelle Tulle (auth.)

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I would argue that age is another important structure through which “reflexive embodiment’’ is accomplished. I have already referred to the critique of Bourdieu’s sociology as lacking the potential for change. Crossley (2001b) concludes his own synthesis by suggesting that Bourdieu’s work could recover the potential for social change by giving greater place to the transgressive capability of social agents. For instance, by opting for more vigorous forms of physicality, women can resist their “enfeeblement’’ and in this way begin to alter their social location.

Clearly some bodies are problematic. As we saw in Chapter 1, ageing bodies are on the whole experienced as deviant, inimical with social and cultural capital, and ontologically problematic. Theoretical interpretations of the management of old bodies point to the tendency to make them disappear, either by claiming they are secondary in the negotiation of identity (I don’t feel old) or by actively managing away the visible signs of ageing. The problem with this approach is that it leads to the denial of ageing itself.

The field of sport is one arena in which the body is brought into play and in which the struggle for domination takes place. In the field of sport it is the legitimate use of the body and the production of the legitimate body (corps légitime) which is at stake (Bourdieu 1984: 181). The literature has been somewhat critical of Bourdieu’s theory of social action, a critique which I would like to address now. What will become clear is that the critique has revealed opaque areas in Bourdieu’s work from which opportunities for useful developments can be built up.

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