Anyone for tennis? sport, class and status in New Zealand

Mark Falcous, Christopher McLeod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This article explores how sport, frequently seen as the foremost meritocracy in New Zealand, is a site that can produce and reproduce social class-based distinctions. Specifically, we explore how participation in youth sport is connected with the consolidation of social class boundaries, expectations and 'tastes' by means of an ethnographic case study of Oakwood Tennis Club. Data was collected through participant-observation, and interviews with coaches, children and parents. Drawing upon Bourdieu (1978, 1984), we show that tennis at Oakwood fits with expressions of an aspirational middle class habitus centred upon social presentation, advancement and status. Parents and coaches at the club who valued the 'concerted cultivation' of youngsters into middle class lifestyles police these habitus codes. Thus, social class considerations are significant in influencing whether and how children play tennis and their experiences while participating.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-30
Number of pages18
JournalNew Zealand Sociology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2012


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