What is PCS?

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PCS: A Definition in Process

“Embodiment is never neutral”

(Hargreaves and Vertinsky, 2007, p. 10)


Physical Cultural Studies (PCS) advances the critically and theoretically-driven analysis of physical culture, in all its myriad forms.  These include sport, exercise, fitness, health, recreation, dance, and movement related practices, which PCS research locates and analyzes within the broader social, political, economic, and technological contexts in which they are situated.


More specifically, PCS is dedicated to the contextually based understanding of the spaces, places, institutions, discourses, representations, forms, subjectivities, and experiences of corporeal practice, through which active bodies become subject to the governing impulses and operations of social power.  PCS thus identifies the role played by physical culture in reproducing, and sometimes challenging, particular class, ethnic, gender, ability, generational, national, racial, and/or sexual norms and differences.


Through the development and strategic dissemination of potentially empowering forms of knowledge and understanding, PCS seeks to illuminate, and hopefully intervene into, sites of physical cultural injustice and inequity. Furthermore, since physical culture is both manifest and experienced in different forms, PCS adopts a multimethod approach toward engaging the empirical (including ethnography and autoethnography, participant observation, discourse and media analysis, and contextual analysis).


PCS advances an equally fluid theoretical vocabulary, utilizing concepts and theories from a variety of disciplines (including, but by no means restricted to, cultural studies, economics, history, media studies, performance studies, philosophy, sociology, and urban studies) in engaging and interpreting the particular aspect of physical culture under scrutiny.


In Summation: The Aim of PCS


Following, and in the spirit of Shilling (2003[1993]), our aim is to:


Develop a more adequate–empirically grounded; theoretically informed; politically incisive; and, methodologically rigorous–approach towards conceptualizing the spaces, places, institutions, discourses, representations, forms, subjectivities, and experiences of active corporeal practice, and their necessary and complex interrelationship with the complex constituent elements of society in general.