EDGZ921: Workshop 3;literature Review

EDGZ921: Workshop 3;literature Review

The following questions are fundamental to the literature review and each was likely raised, and possibly expanded on, at some point during the workshop. Once you

leave the workshop I hope that you might pick up these questions and relate them both to the writing that you are producing and to writing that has already been

produced by others.


•    What is the purpose of a literature review?
•    Why am I doing a literature review?
•    How might my literature review differ depending on the writing context (i.e. thesis, journal article, conference presentation, book)


•    How am I organising/clustering/providing a hierarchy to my literature review?
•    Why do I want to organise/cluster/prioritise it this way?
•    How I can map this out in an advanced plan to guide my writing?


•    Does the literature review provide a sense of the position that I want to occupy in this thesis?
•    Is the literature review conveying an argument for the place I am occupying?
•    Is the literature review about setting the theoretical parameters/ framework for my work?
•    How does the literature review reveal my “attitude” /”evaluation” of the “truth value” of writing of other authors?


•    What language devices have I used to make my writing glue together into a convincing argument or position?
•    Have I used language to reflect the organisation/ clustering / hierarchy I want?

Using reporting verbs ‘to evaluate’ the literature

There are a number of reporting verbs which are commonly used in academic writing. Some, but not all of these are listed below. Your choice of reporting verb can

indicate your evaluation about the research on which you are reporting. Some reporting words imply a fairly neutral evaluation (“reports”, “says”), others imply some

sort of evaluation of the literature in relation to other available research. The word “claim”, for example, sets up an expectation that other literature might either

support or reject the claim.

Next to each reporting verb indicate whether you think that particular reporting verb implies a neutral, positive and/or negative evaluation of the literature

Reporting Verb      Evaluation
point out
Reference: Murison, E. & Webb, C. (1991). Writing a Research Paper. Learning Assistance Centre University of Sydney

Visual conceptualisation of the themes in a literature review

1.2.2 Women and physical activity: an historical overview of the literature.

As mentioned above, much of the early writing in physical education and sport (and the continuing contemporary non-academic argument) took a liberal feminist position

– that is, that women are treated unfairly in being denied access to material resources, media coverage, prizes and so on. The Australian Commonwealth government-

sponsored Fit to Play Conference in 1980 brought together women from the academy, sporting bodies, women’s community organisations and the government to identify

women’s concerns and needs. It was the first of a number of Commonwealth government-sponsored working parties and projects to identify prevailing inequalities and to

develop strategies to address these (for instance, Women’s Working Group on Sport and Media, Commonwealth Schools Commission Project: Physical Education, Girls and

Self Esteem; and the formation of Women’s Sport Foundation)3. Studies by Coles (1980) and Hawkes (with Dryen, Torsh and Hannan, 1975) identified marked inequities in

the resourcing of girls’ physical education and sport as compared to boys’ in terms of finance allocation of playing space, provision of equipment, timetable

preferences and choice of an activity.

Underpinning this research and government efforts to increase equity, valuable as they might have been in terms of getting a bigger ‘slice of the pie’, was the

assumption that sport as it was, was equally desirable for all, for all men and all women. A further assumption which informed the work of many researchers and indeed

the public pronouncements of athletes (and media writers and commentators) was that of the male standard of achievement as the norm – male records, male sports, male

coaching methods, masculine attributes – and their arguments were devoted to the insistence that given the same opportunities as men women would/could and indeed were

catching up (see Ken Dyer’s, Challenging the Men for the best example of this). At the same time within this same perspective, physiologists, such as Barbara

Drinkwater (1980), writing from a feminist position, challenged the ‘scientific facts’ that had accumulated in sports discourse to explain women’s failure to perform

as well as men. While this latter work was important in dispelling many of the myths surrounding women’s physiology, it, together with the equal opportunity rhetoric,

contributed to the (re)production of an ideology that continued to dichotomise difference by comparing women’s achievement, physiology, attitudes and desires to those

of men.

Since much of the ‘scientific writing’ outside the area of exercise physiology and biomechanics in sports discourse is in psychology, sex-role theory made an important

contribution to the further explanation of differences in performance and participation (see for instance, Reis and Jelsma, 1980). Women, it was suggested, via early

socialisation practices, lacked the masculine qualities of competitiveness, aggressiveness, independence and so on that were synonymous with success in sport. Those

women who did succeed came closer to the male psychological profile; they were more androgenous. Role-conflict was also used to explain women’s drop out rate, poor

performances and their absence in any large numbers from some sports (see Birrell, 1983, for a critical review of the psychological literature). Many of these studies

suffered from the same ‘chicken and egg’ problem that characterises mainstream sport psychology studies which compare athletes and non-athletes in order to demonstrate

the positive outcomes of sports participation. But particularly, they too established male attributes and personality characteristics as the standard to be emulated

while at the same time constituting attributes such as competitiveness and aggressiveness as masculine and, therefore, the individual who possesses them as unfeminine.

In education, the liberal feminist position was expressed through arguments and finally legislation against discrimination. In Australia, this took the form of the Sex

Discrimination Act, 1984 and in particular its interpretations in relation to education and sport and in the United State, Title 1X. The specific statement in the Act

referring to education reads: “It is unlawful for an educational authority to discriminate against a student on the grounds of the student’s sex, marital status or

pregnancy – by denying the student access, or by limiting the student’s access to any benefit provided by the authority” (p.56). There are, however, special provisions

which permit segregation of women in sporting activity or exclusion of women from sporting activity altogether when “the strength, stamina or physique of competitors

is relevant”.

Whereas many schools in other states already had co-educational physical education, in New South Wales the main effect of the legislation was the encouragement but not

the mandate from the Education Department to change what had been almost universal single sex physical education into co-educational classes. The shift to co-education

was far from widespread and both form coexist in the State and indeed with schools. A further outcome at the national level was the funding of the Commonwealth Schools

Commission Project with its headquarters in South Australia. This project was designed to review “the research, resources and strategies in the areas linking girls,

self-esteem and physical activity”, to develop programmes in a range of South Australian schools and to promote an awareness of the issues among parents, teachers and

students (GAPA Newlsetter, No 4, 1986). The focus of the project on girls’ self-esteem signalled a shift from equal opportunity to a concern with the effect of the

school environment and particularly the effect of pedagogical practices on female students’ self image and their perceptions of their physical competence.

In North America the equivocal consequences of Title 1X raised doubts about simple solutions that provide women with the ‘same’ opportunities as men. For instance,

women’s athletic departments and their female executives in schools, colleges and universities in some ways were worse off when they amalgamated with men’s

departments, despite the additional revenue that usually obtained. The writing of feminists in athletic departments at the time (Bain, 1985; Theberge, 1985) began to

raise issues and propose alternative theories and methodologies, rather than to continue arguing for particular solutions.

Increasingly, those writings on gender issues in the major sport sociology journals such as Quest, the Sociology of Sport Journal and the International Review of Sport

Sociology, have drawn critical social theory, cultural studies and other feminist positions (other than liberal) to inform the subject, methodology and interpretation

of their work. Sport itself as a social institution implicated in the (re)production of ideology, including the constitution of ideologies to do with sexuality, has

been the subject of sustained critical study. In Britain, the cultural studies approach of Raymond Williams and Paul Willis has been taken up by Jennifer Hargreaves

(1982) and John Hargreaves (1986) to trace the workings of ideology through the practices associated with physical education and sport; Sheila Scraton’s (1986; 1987a;

1987b) school based studies examine gender and physical education in the context of patriarchal power relations. In Australia, Lois Bryson has made an important

contribution to the literature with her discussions of male hegemony in sport (1983; 1991) and Jim McKay (1991), John Goldust (1987) and Patrick Heaven and David Rowe

(1990) have analysed the reproduction of gender ideologies through the representations of women in sport in the media.

The ethnographic work of Scraton and, to a certain extent, the classroom interaction studies of Giffin et al (1981: 1983) have the closest immediate links with the

present study. Although Hargreaves (1986), Scraton and others have to some extent investigated physical education and sport as sites of regulation and (re)production,

none of these studies has systematically addressed the part played by the linguistic choices of students and teachers in this process. This study fills that gap and in

doing so provides a more substantial model of classroom interaction by which teachers may come to analyse and change their practices.

This handout draws on work by Murison &Webb (1991) Writing a Research Paper, Learning Assistance Centre, University of Sydney, and by Bell (1987) Doing your research

project, Open University, Bristol.


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