Critical reflections on ethnographic data collection in the highly gendered environment of male football


  • Solvejg Wolfers-Pommerenke Leuphana University of Lüneburg



ethnography, reflection, masculinity, sexism, sexuality, feminism, sports


This article critically reflects on the methodological implications of indexing gender and sexuality by research participants when conducting ethnographic fieldwork in explicitly gendered contexts, particularly where notions of hegemonic masculinity are prevalent. Research suggests a number of potential challenges for female researchers, such as being patronised and subjected to sexist attitudes, among others. In order to gain a greater understanding of these methodological challenges, this study draws on over 60 hours of audio-recorded and observed interactions among male professional and elite football (‘soccer’ in US English) players and coaches before, during and after football matches and trainings. The main focus is the kinds of gendered and sexualised identities participants regularly assign to the female researcher in discursive interaction. This shows that, in ethnographic research projects, the construction of gender and sexual identities is potentially always relevant to data collection and research outcome.

In diesem Artikel werden die methodischen Implikationen der Indizierung von Gender und Sexualität durch Forschungsteilnehmer in ethnografischer Feldforschung in explizit gegenderten Kontexten, wo Vorstellungen von hegemonialer Männlichkeit vorherrschen, kritisch reflektiert. Die Forschung deutet diesbezüglich auf eine Reihe potenzieller Herausforderungen für weibliche Forscherinnen hin, unter anderem, Bevormundung und sexistischer Umgang. Um diese methodischen Herausforderungen besser zu verstehen, stützt sich diese Studie auf über 60 Stunden Audioaufzeichnungen und Beobachtungen von Interaktionen zwischen männlichen Profi- und Elite-Fußballspielern und Trainern vor, während und nach Fußballspielen und Trainingseinheiten. Es geht in der Studie vor allem darum, welche Art von gegenderten und sexualisierten Identitäten die männlichen Teilnehmer der weiblichen Forscherin regelmäßig in diskursiven Interaktionen zuordnen. Dies zeigt, dass in ethnografischen Forschungsprojekten die Konstruktion gegenderter und sexualisierter Identitäten potenziell immer relevant für die Datenerhebung und das Forschungsergebnis ist. 

Author Biography

Solvejg Wolfers-Pommerenke, Leuphana University of Lüneburg

Solvejg Wolfers-Pommerenke is a Research Associate at the Institute of English Studies at Leuphana University of Lüneburg. From 2017 to 2021 she pursued her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Warwick. Her research interests include team cohesion, leadership discourse, gendered language and the multiple uses and functions of humour.


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How to Cite

Wolfers-Pommerenke, S. (2022). Critical reflections on ethnographic data collection in the highly gendered environment of male football. Gender and Language, 16(1), 52–74.