Moving in my world: an investigation into young people’s embodiment and its impact on participation in physical activity

Document type
Azzarito, Laura
Date of publication
6 July 2011
ESRC End of Award Report; RES-061-25-0382
Health Services, Children and Young People
Social welfare
Material type

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In the current public health context in which young people of ethnic minority backgrounds and low socio-economic class are increasingly framed as a problem there is an urgent need to understand the ways young people themselves view and narrate their experiences in physical activity. Shedding light on young people’s embodiment in their everyday localities is critical to tackling global discourses of “bodies-at-risk”, and to addressing persistent structural inequalities constraining some young people’s physicality. The purpose of this research, Moving in My World, was to enable young people to “speak for themselves” against the backdrop of public health by empowering them to express their embodiment in authentic, creative, and contextualized ways. In this two-year visual participatory ethnography conducted in multicultural, urban school contexts, student-researchers used digital cameras and created visual diaries to express their thoughts, feelings and ideas, and to share their stories about what it means to “move in their worlds”. Following the completion of their visual diaries, formal interviews were conducted with each participant using a photo-feedback technique. Because a key purpose of visual participatory methodology is to encourage young people to take an active role in the research process, and to make their views visible to the public, parts of the findings have been presented at the researched schools, school-based art exhibitions, community-based arts centres, and a local museum. These exhibitions attempt to capture teens’ inspiring ways of “seeing”, talking about, and reflecting upon the significance of physical activity in their everyday lives.

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