Young Chinese Australians' subjectivities of ‘health’ and ‘(un)healthy bodies’

Bonnie Pang, Laura Georgina Alfrey, Valeria Varea

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    17 Citations (Scopus)


    Young people with English as an Additional Language/Dialect backgrounds are often identified in public health messages and popular media as ‘bodies at risk’ because they do not conform to the health regimens of contemporary Western societies. With increasing numbers of Chinese students in Australian schools, it is necessary to advance teachers’ understandings of the ways in which these young people negotiate notions of ‘health’ and ‘(un)healthy bodies’. This paper explores the ways in which young Chinese Australians’ understand health and (un)healthy bodies. The data upon which this paper focuses were drawn from a larger scale study underpinned by critical, interpretive, ethnographic methods. The participants in this study were 12 young Chinese Australians, aged 10–15 years, from two schools. Photographs of a variety of bodies were sourced from popular magazines and used as a means of interview elicitation. The young people were invited to comment on the photographs and discuss what ‘health’ and the notion of a ‘(un)healthy body’ meant to them.
    Foucault’s concepts of discursive practice and normalisation are used alongside
    Chinese concepts of holistic paradigms and Wen–Wu to unpack the young people’s subjectivities on health and (un)healthy bodies. The findings invite us to move beyond Western subjectivities of health and (un)healthy bodies and highlight the multidimensional and diverse perspectives espoused by some of the young Chinese Australians in this study. The research findings can inform future policy and practice relevant to the exploration of health and (un)healthy bodies in health and physical education and health and physical education teacher education.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1091-1108
    Number of pages18
    JournalSport, Education and Society
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

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