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Sine Agergaard

Ethnographic Field Studies of Danish Sports Education

PhD study started February 1, 2000 (field research from August 1999 - June 2000)
by Sine Agergaard, Centre of Cultural Research, Aarhus University, DK.


In modern Danish society sports is connected to central ideas of social education1. The anthropological view on this project is that central traditions of sports education exemplify the reproduction and renewal of socialisation practices. A study of the education of sports instructors, who are training to be educators of sports, makes it possible to analyse how ideological discourses and social education practices are linked for the present.

Project design:

The PhD-project is based on ethnographic comparative field studies among 18-30year old students at two sports schools (Gymnastik og Idrætshøjskolen ved Viborg and Danmarks Trænerskole, Aalborg). The institutions have been chosen on the presumption of differences between their historical backgrounds and pedagogical ideals, which aim to educate folk leaders or elite trainers respectively. This project will develop socially current descriptions and analysis of: Institutional spaces and discourses of sports education (folkelig dannelse and elite uddannelse) & Bodily experiences while being educated as a sports instructor (whether folk leader or elite trainer).

Theoretical perspectives:

Theoretically a link is made between sociology of education focusing on socialisation (Emile Durkheim 1973, 1975, Pierre Bourdieu 1970/1998), and phenomenological anthropological perspectives on embodiment (Michael Jackson 1983, 1996, Thomas Csordas 1990, 1994).

Applied methods:

The methods range from questionnaires over discourse analyses to participant observation and qualitative interviews that will be developed throughout the PhD period (-2003).


  1. Education is just one word for the Danish distinction between "uddannelse" and "dannelse", built on Enlightenment ideals also expressed in the German concepts of "Ausbildung" and "Bildung" (Nordentoft 1998). Nevertheless, I link the notions of dannelse to uddannelse (in general: social education). When compared, you find similarities, besides the ideological distinction between dannelse and uddannelse, which are enhanced in folk and elite sports respectively.

Updated October 25 2001 by jpt. Please mail comments to the webmaster at Centre for Cultural Research.