How is embodiment in physical education theoretically conceptualised? A concept analysis

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Background: Interest in and debates around meaningful movement and embodiment in physical education (EPE) have grown over the last ten years. The quality of these discussions centre on a degree of conceptual clarity for talking pedagogically about embodiment, and consideration of ways of applying it in practice in meaningful ways. The aim of this study is to systematically analyse the theoretical concept of embodiment presented within physical education (PE) literature, in order to support a conceptual clarity upon which to build well-grounded pedagogical insights and practices for school-teachers and their students, as well as PE teacher educators. Method: A narrative literature review methodology was used to identify twenty-three (23) papers from peer-reviewed literature between 2010 and 2021 that had some focus on embodiment. These were analysed using [Rodgers, B. L. 2000. “Concept Analysis: An Evolutionary View.” In Concept Development in Nursing: Foundations, Techniques, and Applications, edited by B. K. Rodgers and K. A. Knafl, 77–102. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders.] theoretical evolutionary concept analysis method to systematically identify characteristics associated with the concept in published literature. Evolutionary concept analysis typically involves a six-phase process of usage over time. Data analysis involved the systematic extraction and analysis of the literature for surrogate terms, related concepts, attributes, antecedents, consequences, and references to the concept. Results: Despite conceptual variances across the articles analysed, a set of common attributes that included intentionality, affect, meaning, sharing, and unity were identified. The review identified potential consequences of EPE including deeply transformative and meaningful change in the learner, the context, and the teacher. Events, situations or phenomena that precede EPE are broadly linked to the teacher, the learner, and the context. Conclusions: The concept of embodiment as it pertains to its theoretical/philosophical deployment in PE, is both complex and varied, limiting its potential to inform the pedagogical practices of teachers and therefore realise the consequences espoused. To temper this disconnect the paper provides accessible, yet provisional guidance for teachers via clusters of familiar characteristics with accompanying descriptions of what the literature suggests as important for embodied approaches. Together the tables and analysis encourage and enable educators and researchers to believe in, commit to, and to operationalise embodiment as practice in their work.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalPhysical Education and Sport Pedagogy
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


  • concept analysis
  • Embodiment
  • embodiment in physical education
  • literature review
  • meaning
  • phenomenology
  • physical education

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