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Diana Mulinari

Diana Mulinari


Diana Mulinari

Som vem som helst : Kön, funktionalitet och idrottande kroppar

Like everyone else : Gender, functionality and sporting bodies


  • Elisabet Apelmo

Summary, in English

The main aim of this thesis is to explore young women’s lived experience of the body, which, on one hand, is viewed as deviant – the disabled body – and, on the other hand, is viewed as accomplished – the sporting body. The questions posed in the thesis are the following: how do the young women handle the two subject positions that emerge as a result of the perception of them as respectively deviant and accomplished, which forms of femininity are available to them and what are the strategies of resistance they develop.

Based on the work of philosophers Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Simone de Beauvoir, phenomenologies create in this thesis a sociological theoretical framework that includes the body. Participant observation was conducted at a disability sports camp for young disabled people and at four disability sports contests. The participants were recruited from both the sports camp and disability sports clubs. Ten semi-structured interviews were done with young women ages 15 to 28. Three of the participants were asked to keep video diaries: they were lent a small camcorder and a lightweight tripod for two months.

In this study a polarization paradoxically is apparent between the weak, which is expressed through the expression of belonging as ”we”, and the strong individual. The subject position as capable and positive – as a reaction towards the weak, the negative – is one of the few positions that are available to them. With the positive and strong attitude, as with distancing from the victim position, the consequence is the difficulty, not only to complain but also to express pain, despair or discomfort in one’s everyday life. In this study many critical voices are raised. They also tell about stumbling and incontinence. At the same time the answer ”no, it’s fine” is given in many different forms. In this thesis this is interpreted as an unwillingness to express negative emotions.

The phrase ”I am like everyone else” and the many variations on the same theme in the empirical material are interpreted as a wish for normality. Using the same logic – that attributed weakness leads to the expression of strength – the deviance that is attributed leads to a nearly extreme expression of normality. The lack of gender attributed to disabled people appears to imply that if functionality is not ”normal”, there is no room for another categorization. One interpretation of the material is that disability is seen in the family and in society as a different landscape, in which vulnerability needs to be compensated for by normality, which in turn results in the interview persons’ socialization into a compensatory normalcy.


  • Sociology

Publishing year





Lund Dissertations in Sociology



Document type





  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)


  • feminist methodology
  • phenomenology
  • disability studies
  • social movements
  • assistive technology
  • technology
  • difference
  • normality
  • feminism
  • gender
  • visual methods
  • video diaries
  • body
  • sport
  • disability sport
  • physical education




  • Ann Mari Sellerberg
  • Diana Mulinari


  • ISSN: 1102-4712
  • ISBN: 978-91-7473-408-9

Defence date

14 December 2012

Defence time


Defence place

Kulturens Auditorium, Tegnérsplatsen, Lund


  • Tomas Peterson (professor)