Muslim girls' experiences in physical education in Norway: What role does religiosity play?





Sport, Education and Society;


Taylor & Francis (Routledge)



Recent years have seen an increase in scholarly attention to minority pupils and their experience of physical education (PE). UK research identifies specific challenges related to Muslim pupils' participation in PE. In Norway, little research has been undertaken on Muslim pupils' experiences in PE, something this paper hopes to redress in part. In particular, it addresses the role and significance of religiosity to their experience of PE. The work is positioned within third-wave feminism; as such it aims to be sensitive to issues of cultural and religious diversity. The study is based on life-history interviews with 21 Muslim girls aged between 16 and 25. All the girls had attended PE lessons at school, mostly in mixed-gender classes, but with some gender-segregated PE as well. In terms of religious affiliation, the girls describe themselves as Muslim, though their degree of religiosity varies. Five wear the hijab. The general picture drawn by the data shows that the Muslim girls enjoy their PE lessons and the majority preferred gender-mixed PE. Religiosity seems to have little influence on Muslim girls' experience of PE, with the exception of swimming lessons and showering facilities. We can understand the objections of some of the girls to gender-mixed PE by looking at the dominance of the male gender, and, as such, their experiences are similar to those of non-Muslim girls. However, objections to gender-mixed swimming classes are best explained by the girls' gendered religious identities and embodied faith. In term of intersectionality, the study shows that different categories dominate in different PE contexts. As such, what Muslim girls make of PE is not always dictated by religiosity.



This is an electronic version of an article published in Sport, Education and Society, (ahead-of-print), 1-19. Sport, Education and Society is available online at:

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