Is Danish gymnastic culture losing footing in the competition state?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference abstract in proceedingsResearch

Andorra Lynn Jensen, Lone Friis Thing

The development of gymnastics and nation state went hand in hand at the end of the 19th century in Denmark because the farmer culture needed a body cultural education platform to educate the people (Korsgaard 2001). Modernity and industrialisation didn’t abolish the Danish gymnastic culture but instead helped the voluntary organisations prosper as the post war welfare systems secured the survival of voluntary organisations with economic support and legislation. But since the millennium neoliberal state management principals have had great influence, also in Denmark.
Internationalisation and individualisation constantly challenge the development of the nation state (Kaspersen 2013) and have crucial unintended consequences for sport and gymnastic culture. In this paper, gymnastic culture is analysed using Norbert Elias’ process sociological perspective (Elias 1994) with the aim to understand the development of one of the oldest body cultures in Denmark. By presenting a historical case, “K. A. Knudsen and the State Gymnastic Institute”, and a current case, “Move for life”, we aim to illustrate how gymnastics is a survival unit which in collaboration with the state attempts to establish and mold independent citizens with the competencies and qualifications that are in keeping with the spirit of the age. Gymnastic culture and the state are viewed as interdependent (Elias 1994), but gymnastic culture has a relative autonomy (Thing and Ottesen 2010) and can independently contribute with new and creative actions to survive. Currently, the non-governmental sport and gymnastics organisations are expected to take co-responsibility for societal challenges such as poor health and unemployment, and this is often framed as a new issue. The question is whether this issue is indeed new or whether the collaboration between the voluntary organisations and the state has always been inherent? The past must be understood in order to more precisely explain the present and to highlight the development perspectives of the future of gymnastic culture.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNordic Sociological Association Conference 2018 - NSA 2018 - Aalborg, Denmark, 8th - 10th August 2018 : Book of Abstracts
Number of pages1
Publication date2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventNSA 2018: The 29th Nordic Sociological Association Conference: The Global North – Welfare policies, mobilities, inequalities, and social movements - Aalborg Universitet, Aalborg, Denmark
Duration: 8 Aug 201810 Aug 2018


ConferenceNSA 2018: The 29th Nordic Sociological Association Conference
LocationAalborg Universitet

    Research areas

  • The Faculty of Science - Gymnastics culture, Elias, Process sociology, Figurations, Internationalization

ID: 209117825