This dissertation builds on my four-year ethnographic immersion into the world of youth soccer in the Twin Cities and dozens of interviews with players, parents, and coaches. My dissertation, titled “Beyond Orange Slices: The Contested Cultural Terrain of Youth Soccer in the United States”, demonstrates how various spaces of youth soccer in a metropolitan city are social environments where social inequalities, identities, and discourses of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, and community are constructed, challenged, and reproduced. In my dissertation I examine how the field of youth soccer raced, classed, and gendered; how larger social systems of inequality appear and shape taken for granted, but prevalent cultural spaces, such as sport; and how practices of youth soccer serve as a contested cultural site of meaning with regards to parenting culture, families, sporting discourse, youth development, community, identity, and social difference. The first section of my dissertation focuses on how youth soccer is a social field with seven different sites of youth soccer. Within these different locations of soccer’s social field, clubs create, maintain, and define a group identity that is centered on how they “do” youth soccer. Different communities “do” the sport in a manner that is informed by various parenting styles, ideals about community, and visions for proper youth development. The second section of my dissertation is about gender and how different forms of playing and coaching the game are shaped by cultural ideas of masculinity and femininity during youth. Throughout the field of soccer, players, coaches, and parents often intentionally strive to challenge gender norms about who can play and succeed in the game. Yet, many participants often still reproduce gender hierarchy and normativity through soft essentialism. In the final section I argue that soccer, and youth sport, is a useful and particular sociological window into how the dynamics of race and racism operate in the United States, particularly within diverse (racial and ethnic) social spaces. In this section, I show that in many cases youth soccer is a “cosmopolitan canopy” where social difference is supported and co-exists seemingly with ease and normality. Participants in these diverse social canopies of soccer frequently view such diversity as a positive feature of the sport and reproduce happy diversity talk. However, within these diverse soccer spaces, biological notions of race, racist microaggressions, and other forms of racial marginalization and exclusion appear frequently, simultaneously, and often with no formal challenges or reconciliation. These racist ruptures reveal the tenuous characteristics of diverse social spaces and sport, and highlights the limited inclusive potential of diversity discourse
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation.June 2019. Major: Sociology. Advisor: Doug Hartmann. 1 computer file (PDF); iv, 272 pages.
MANNING , CHARLES (ALEX).
Beyond Orange Slices: The Contested Cultural Terrain of Youth Soccer in the United States.
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