Defamiliarizing heavy-contact sports: a critical examination of rugby, discipline, and pleasure

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Pleasure can be regarded as a productive force in the constitution of the social significance of sport and desiring sport subjects. The organization and use of sport pleasure has been a relatively marginalized topic of examination. To promote and examine sport pleasure, I conducted semistructured interviews with seven passionate rugby players. Transcripts were analyzed via Foucauldian theorizing and revealed the intertwined workings of technologies of dominance and self in the constitution of rugby pleasures. As a strategy to defamiliarize and disrupt habitual and uncritical acceptance of rugby aggression, I argued that rugby pleasures were akin to sadomasochism. Rugby can be understood as a taboo-breaking game associated with transparent relations of power connected with the pleasure induced from physical domination and the fear of pain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-234
Number of pages24
JournalSociology of Sport Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes

Cite this