Att utveckla handlingskraft om flickors identitetsskapande processer

Sammanfattning: This thesis is about organized riding as an arena for girls' leisure activity, in which they create a specific identity. My aim was to interpret and analyze the way girls create meaning out of the social and cultural context of the riding school. Particular focus is put on how gender is constructed through activities and actions within the discourses revealed through language, rules and symbols. My questions of research are: What does the cultural practice in the stable look like? What dimensions are important for the girls' identity creation? How do the girls position themselves through action, language and symbols? Which gender positions are available? Which positions are valued and not valued within the stable? How do their positions in the stable differ from what they see as their positions at school? Theoretically I rely on a social constructive perspective and with my interest focused on which ideal, norms and values the girls have to relate to. For my analyzes I use theoretical writings by Foucault, Butler and Skeggs, specially their constructs about power, meaning and materiality. The structure of the stable imposes power on the girls through its discourses. The girls, on the other hand, exert power on the horses and other young people in the stable through their competence and position. Within the space, which emerges and develops through the social interaction the girls together create meaning of their lives in the stable. Materiality is shown through their execution of personal competence, which they gain through the responsibility and leadership over the horse. My empirical data partly consists of personal life stories from the 1950´s up to now told by women at different ages, who had spent considerable time in the stable. I have, also, made observations of and talked to a group of girls, spending their leisure time in a local stable taking care of the horses and riding. A year later I made follow up interviews with the same girls. The data analyzes resulted in three major themes: Meeting the horse, Meeting with the culture and Meeting with people in the stable. Different dimension emerged within these themes important for my understanding of how the girls positioned themselves in the stable. The girls' interaction with the horse is what makes riding different from other leisure activities. Since the horse is not safe to handle the girls need to be determined, distinct and ready to take action. Through this they create a self image of courage, action and determination. The legitimacy of the culture is shaped by the discourses: Responsibility and Work, Care giving and Military discipline. Through these the girls learn that the milieu with horses means hard work and severe challenges, which they are expected to manage. In return they are seen and look upon themselves as industrious and responsible persons. The theme Meeting people focuses on the social encounters, which occur in the riding school. Being with their friends in the stable is central. Homo-social friendship is more important than heterosexual play. The girls consider themselves different from other girls outside the stable. They called themselves "not abashed" as they did not care about appearance. They had the opportunity to handle gender expectations of the society in a different way. My conclusion is that girls in the stable have a place where they can create a gender identity, which is wider than the traditional norms about how girls should behave and look. In this place their drive to take action and be in the lead gets a meaning, they are heroes in a non compromise world.

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