Bodies as bearers of value: the transmission of jock culture via the ‘Twelve Commandments’

Andrew Sparkes, Elizabeth Partington, David H. K. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores a number of insights generated from a three-year ethnographic study of one university setting in England in which a ‘jock culture’ is seen to dominate a student campus. Drawing on core concepts from Pierre Bourdieu's sociology of culture, it illustrates the unique function of the body in sustaining jock culture through the hierarchical ordering of bodies in institutional space. First, the development of this culture over time and the key dispositions that come to embody it are outlined. Next, the authors identify and illustrate the enactment of what they call the ‘Twelve Commandments’. These operate as a series of structured and structuring practices to condition the bodies of group members by appropriating an idealized and internalized jock habitus that is not gender neutral. Rather, it can be seen as a practical and symbolic manifestation of a dominant, heterosexual, masculine orientation to the world. The authors suggest that in spite of seemingly significant processes of accommodation over the years, the ‘illusio’ of this jock culture remains substantially intact and maintained through a combination of the following: (a) symbolic violence and (b) a systematic embodied complicity on the part of many of the actors who have something to gain by avoiding active subordination to, and exclusion from, the dominant group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-316
JournalSport, Education and Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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