Social media and women’s participation in sport and fitness


Do you use Instagram to share your experiences of getting fit?

We would love to hear from you if:

  • you identify as a woman
  • you are 18 years or over
  • you are living in Melbourne, Australia
  • you speak English
  • you have a dedicated Instagram fitness account or post regularly about your fitness journey (or have done so in the past)

We are seeking participants to interview for a study investigating how women use Instagram as part of their fitness routine. This research study is part of an ongoing project looking at social media and women’s participation in sport and fitness.

For more information, or to register your interest in being involved, please contact [email protected]

This project is overseen by Associate Professor Kim Toffoletti, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Education, Deakin University

This study has received Deakin University ethics approval (reference number: HAE-19-120).

Livestreaming at #TASA2018

For this year’s TASA conference (#TASA2018) at Deakin we are livestreaming selected events to enable engagement of a broader public and TASA members in the intellectual life of the conference. Below is the live streaming scheduled for the conference this year.

Livestreamed events will be made available through the TASA Facebook page. If you would like to find out more about the live streaming schedule for the conference keep an eye on the following social media sites for the conference:  TASA Facebook page and the following Twitter accounts: @DeakinSociology, @AustSoc through the conference hashtag #TASA2018


Day Time Event name Speaker(s)
Monday 19th November 18:15-19:30 Public Lecture: Everyday Bordering and the Grey Zones: Experiences from Calais and London Nira Yuval-Davis
Tuesday 20 November 9:00 – 10:00 Keynote: Addressing precarity, rights and resistance: Indigenous sociology and epistemic reciprocity


Professor Bronwyn Carlson
Wednesday 21 November 9:00-10:00 TASA President’s address Dan Woodman
  13:30- 15:30 Panel: Rethinking Youth Sociology: A Spotlight on the Work of Johanna Wyn Johanna Wyn; Madeleine Leonard;Julia Coffey;

Rob White; Dan Wo

  16:00- 17:30 Plenary: Asylum Seeker and Refugee Rights Advocacy in Australia Emeritus Professor Gillian Triggs; David Manne;

Fadak Alfayadh

Thursday 22nd November 9:00-10:00 Keynote: Precarity, Rights and Resistance in the everyday lives of children: Reflections from Ireland. Madeleine Leonard
  10:30–12:30 Panel: Religion, Sexuality and Young People in Australia and the UK Professor Mary Lou Rasmussen; Yvette Taylor;

Dr Sarah-Jane Page

  13:30- 15:30 Interactive session: Applied sociology, graduate employability and the ‘chartered sociologist’: reflections on the BSA’s model curriculum Nick Fox

Livestreaming involves real-time audio-video broadcasting of an event over the Internet. Anyone who follows the TASA Facebook page will be able to access this recording at the time of the event. We will also capture these events so that those who can’t attend the conference or log on at the time can view them afterwards.

TASA 2018: Spotlight on refugee rights advocacy in Australia

by Alexia Maddox in conversation with Panel Chair, Dr Amy Nethery

At the Australian Sociological Association conference (TASA 2018) to be held at Deakin University in November, Deakin Scholar, Dr Amy Nethery, and outspoken refugee rights advocates, Emeritus Professor Gillian Triggs and David Manne, will be participating in a plenary panel on Asylum Seeker and Refugee Rights Advocacy in Australia. At the panel refugee activist Fadak Alfayadh will ground the conversation on legal advocacy and policy making, with her experience as a refugee and work as an activist.

In conversation with Dr Nethery, we can anticipate a lively discussion that examines how the current human rights travesty of detention of asylum seekers is the result of bad policy. Drawing from her vast body of research in the field, Dr Nethery points to how laws and policy governing asylum seeking are anti-democratic. She argues that they are bad policy that have been made through processes that are non-transparent, non-accountable, and secretive, with few checks and balances. The result is policy that damages human lives.

The public debate surrounding the detention of asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island has been dominated by lawyers and health practitioners – both of whom perform important roles – however Dr Nethery observes that political scientists also have an important role in the discussion. It is vital that we understand how political factors have shaped asylum policy. To date, Dr Nethery argues that the anti-democratic nature of the policy is under-examined. 

While tough asylum policies might be considered favorably by many Australian citizens – and regular surveys shows that this is indeed the case – popular support for policy is not the only criteria for policy to be democratic. Policy must also be transparent, accountable, consistent with domestic and international laws, economically justifiable, and include checks and balances. In contrast, Australia’s asylum policies are secretive, expensive, inconsistent with international law, and harmful.

Dr Nethery argues that Australia’s anti-democratic asylum laws have been developed incrementally over the past three decades and are supported by both major parties. She argues that asylum policy is shaped by two enduring political myths. First is the political myth that being tough on asylum seekers wins elections. The second is that to relinquish the smallest humanity – such as, for providing very sick children on Nauru with health care – would result in the whole system of border protection unravelling.

These two myths mean that consecutive governments have responded to asylum seekers with increasing militarized response. Reframed as a ‘border protection’ issue, the issue of asylum seekers travelling by boat is treated as though it is an issue of national security, justifying secrecy and great expense. Creating the perception of control is an important part of the government’s agenda.

Asylum policy has also been designed in order to increase executive control – particularly the discretionary powers of the Minister – and to remove the ability for lawyers and human rights organisations to intervene in the treatment of individuals. Lawyers and other groups providing essential checks and balances over the policy are disempowered from performing this critical democratic task.

Dr Nethery explains that the restriction on checks and balances has been part of immigration detention policy since it was first implemented in 1989. She points to the remote locations of detention centres and the practice of transferring detainees between centres without notice and with no justification, as two ways the policy restricts access of pro bono lawyers and other people providing vital independent external oversight.

In February this year, while advocates’ attention was focused on the tragedy on Nauru and Manus Island, the government passed laws to make it more difficult for visitors, including family, to access people detained in detention centres on the mainland. The result is that people, many of whom have been detained for years, are stranded indefinitely and without support in a punitive system.

Dr Nethery anticipates that between now and November there will be several policy changes as a result of sustained and coordinated advocacy from various areas of Australian society. Consequently, she anticipates that the TASA 2018 plenary panel will respond to the conference theme of Precarity, Rights and Resistance by providing pivotal insights into real-time events surrounding refugee rights in Australia as they unfold.


TASA 2018 plenary session

“Working in the Global Academy: Precarity, Rights, Opportunities and Resistance”

At the upcoming TASA 2018 conference there will be a fascinating plenary session entitled “Working in the Global Academy: Precarity, Rights, Opportunities and Resistance”. This session will cover many of the current challenges faced by sociologists and practitioners in allied disciplines within the higher education sector. Matters close to many of TASA’s membership.

The plenary session will  held by Associate Professor Fran Collyer, who has recently been named Sociologist of the month by the journal Current Sociology for her work on Global patterns in the publishing of academic knowledge Global North, global South. Other speakers will include: Nour Dados and James Goodman (UTS); Fabian Cannizzo (RMIT) and Christian Mauri (Murdoch); and Grant Banfield (Flinders) and Ann Lawless (UWA).

As our universities became part of the global system, Australian academics, perhaps more so than in many other parts of the world, came face to face with neoliberalism, managerialism and marketisation. Our work-loads have intensified and expanded, surveillance has increased, our environments have become less collaborative and much more competitive, and for many, our future is less secure and predictable. This plenary offers the opportunity to hear about some of the latest research on the academy. We begin with a focus on Australians as ‘Southern’ workers, on the peculiar challenges they confront, and the work practices and strategies developed in the face of the dominant ‘North’. This is followed with a report on the new Scholarly Teaching Fellows introduced as a more secure alternative to teaching casuals, with reflections on the implementation and experience of this new workplace model. Early career academics are the focus of the next presentation, reflecting on a new generation of workers who display both pessimism and a sense of hope for their futures in the academy. The final session will turn attention to the possibilities and potentialities of workplace activism and rights, as collective action becomes ever more important to address the issues of precarity and workplace rights for workers in the Australian academy.

There is so much in this plenary that will be a strong call for many participants. The conference theme of Precarity, Rights and Resistance will no doubt draw together a fascinating and awakening range of presentations and people at the upcoming TASA conference.

Conference abstracts close on the 4th June. Please submit your work and we hope to see you at Deakin, in the leafy suburbs of Melbourne.

Precarity, Rights and Resistance

TASA 2018 at Deakin

The School of Humanities and Social Sciences, The Faculty of Arts and Education, The Alfred Deakin Institute of Citizenship and Globalisation at Deakin University are all happy to invite you to the 2018 TASA Conference at our Burwood Campus in Melbourne.

The theme of this year’s conference is Precarity, Rights and Resistance.

The pressures that neoliberal capitalism is placing on people and the planet has led to a heightened state of precarity, particularly since the Global Financial Crisis and new climate of austerity. At the same time, while the mid-late 20th Century can be categorised as a cosmopolitan era, in which great advances were made in affirming the rights of women, children, LGBTIQ people, cultural and religious minorities, and animals, an aggressive anti-cosmopolitan turn has occurred in the early 21st Century. This is evident in a rise of narrow nationalism, far-right parties, Islamophobia, and climate change denial, with previously dominant groups fighting to maintain their supremacy over ‘others’ and the lifeworld. Resistance to this precarity and anti-cosmopolitanism has emerged in numerous social movements’ and scholar-activists’ calls for new ways to live well together, recognising our interdependence on one another and the natural world. Our conference will focus on these themes, and we call for critical analysis of these pressing issues currently confronting all of us.

Staff across the sociology discipline at Deakin University represent broad interests in the areas of globalization, gender, migration, risk, religion and caring. The Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation (ADI) is an internationally recognised and highly regarded social sciences and humanities research institute. ADI researchers create cutting-edge knowledge about citizenship, diversity, inclusion and globalization, which informs scholarship, debate and policy.

The Burwood campus of the university is situated in the leafy eastern suburbs of Melbourne approximately 45 minutes journey to and from the city centre. The campus is serviced by bus and tram lines. We have an abundance of on-campus as well as off-campus accommodation.

We look forward to welcoming TASA members and sociologists from around Australia and the world to Melbourne this year.

The Conference convenor is Grazyna Zajdow and the Local organizing committee is:

Rose Butler
Bernie East
Liz Eckerman
Anna Halafoff
Anita Harris
Amelia Johns
Karen Lane
Doug Lorman
Alexia Maddox
Vince Marotta
Andrew Singleton
Kim Toffoletti
Jessica Walton

Deakin Women in Sport and Exercise (WISE) Seminar

Dr Katharine Jones (Thomas Jefferson University) “Will the Real Fans Please Stand Up? Negotiating Gendered Authenticity in English Football.”

Wednesday 23 May, 4pm-5pm, Deakin Downtown, Level 12, Tower 2, 727 Collins Street, Melbourne. See reception for room number. Virtual Meeting Point dial-in number: (03) 522 36973.

Abstract: English football (aka soccer) underwent a major transformation at the turn of the 21st century as a result of several deadly stadium disasters and an infusion of money from satellite TV contracts. Women and children were seen as potential “civilizing” influences by the footballing authorities, and so were encouraged to attend (although they had always done so). At the same time, it became clear that clubs could make money off fans if they treated them as customers consuming an entertainment product. My talk explores the backlash among football fans to this corporate model, which has focused on so-called outsiders to the game, people presumed not to be “true” fans, either because of their match attendance history, their clothing, their accent, or their identity. These discourses of authenticity create boundaries between fans and their performance of fandom. Holding fans to ideals of authenticity excludes some, includes others, and produces nostalgia for the way things used to be. This mythical time was when all fans were authentic—or, rather, a time when white straight men could be “real” men, and gendered, racial and sexual others could be safely excluded, ignored or abused. The discourse of authenticity is also used to sell the game back to fans; but it leads to unattainable standards for fandom. Female fans, fans of colour, and/or LGBT fans suffer the most from these strict definitions of authentic fandom.

Katharine Jones is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA. She earned a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University, and an MA and PhD in Sociology from Rutgers University in New Jersey. She also earned a Certificate in Women’s Studies from Rutgers. She has published on the accents and identity negotiations of white English immigrants in the US, in her book Accent on Privilege (Temple University Press, 2001), and women’s responses to sexism and homophobia at English soccer matches. Her current research interests are: the intersections of gender, race, class and sexuality, as applied to English soccer fans; autoethnographies of the body, grief, and illness; feminist methodologies; and critical pedagogies. At Jefferson, She teaches courses about gender, race and class; globalization; citizenship; sport; and the United Kingdom. Katharine spent her childhood in the UK, Africa, and the Caribbean, and travelled widely because of her parents’ jobs.

Places are limited. To RSVP, please contact [email protected]

Confessions of a Feminist Footy Fan

Our colleague Kim Toffoletti has written about her ambivalent love of football. It is a love that many of us share.

Confessions of a feminist footy fan

It’s not easy being a feminist and a footy fan. For every success story I hear about women’s progress in the world of Australian rules, routinely reported in the news are incidents of sexist attitudes and behaviours. Take the recent example of a group of influential men in football joking on air about drowning sport journalist Caroline Wilson.

Even though such events are routinely condemned by the AFL and wider society, when they occur I feel torn. They tell me that despite all the gains women have made to be visible, respected and valued in football, at the end of the day it amounts to not very much. Achieving real equality does not seem to matter.

Australian rules is my sport and I’ve followed the Hawks my whole life. From an early age, me and my three brothers would eagerly jump in the family van every Saturday afternoon, knowing dad would take us to the footy. I remember mud in the carpark and throngs of people making their way through the gates. We’d buy the footy record before finding seats on the wing. Without fail, half-time meant a hot pie with sauce.

It was the ‘80s – a golden time to be a Hawks fan – so I can recount many wins. But what I think back on most, regardless of the outcome, was that being at the footy felt terrific. How great it was to be together, with my family, with other barrackers shouting and cutting loose. I loved the players and I absolutely loved singing the club song. Though not once did I think that playing football and following in the footsteps of my idols was something I could do.

I didn’t question why my mother rarely came to matches. After all, there were lots of other women and girls at the stadium. It was only as an adult that I came to understand that Saturday afternoon was the only time mum – a homemaker – got to herself. It might be possible to imagine our father-child football ritual as a kind of feminist act, gifting mum some respite from looking after us kids 24/7. But I also recall that we always came home to a warm meal and piles of freshly ironed clothes, putting paid to any early fantasies I might have had that football was doing women any favours.

Despite my early brushes with the overt and more subtle gender politics of football supporting, it was as a young adult that my feminist consciousness was forged. And, increasingly, what I saw and experienced of football culture troubled me, none more so than the reporting of incidents of sexual assault by AFL and NRL players. I questioned how I could support a sport where women were either treated like sexual conquests or demonised as sexual predators, where men dominated the field, coaching boxes, media airwaves and boardrooms, with women largely consigned to ancillary roles bar a handful of high-profile trailblazers.

It is over 10 years since football’s culture of hostility towards women was exposed, and both the AFL and various clubs have sought to address the barriers to women’s participation in football and to create an environment on and off field that welcomes all members of the community – indigenous, multicultural and LGBTIQ, included. We have seen the development of initiatives like the respect and responsibility policy (, themed rounds dedicated to celebrating community diversity, the many ‘firsts’ for women in football as umpires, coaches, on sports media panels, as administrators and executives. With the inauguration of the AFL’s women’s league in 2017 (, it would seem that feminists like myself should have nothing to complain about. After all, women can now play the game at the highest level and participate in all aspects of AFL culture.

Yet despite the League’s organisational commitment to diversity, including progress made towards greater gender inclusivity, the AFL and the culture of Aussie rules more generally still appears far too ‘male, stale and pale’ for my liking. Feminist of colour Sara Ahmed argues that it is not enough to assume that equality is achieved in the act of promoting diversity, which the AFL does via diversity committees, appointing more ‘others’ like women and Indigenous people to senior roles, and creating opportunities for women to play the game. Instead of interpreting these kinds of developments as institutional success stories, or as ‘evidence’ that the AFL is a diverse and progressive organisation, Ahmed encourages us to ask whether investments in diversity are actually aimed at ‘the overcoming of an inequality regime’, or whether this diversity ‘work’ becomes a new set of processes that maintain the status quo by giving the appearance of doing things differently.

Ahmed’s ideas also alert us to the dangers of the language of diversity. Words like ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusiveness’ come to stand in for concepts of equality and social transformation. In other words, just because the AFL can point to more women in its ranks, and a commitment to fostering a professional league for women players, this does not necessarily mean that women have greater power or say in football cultures. More women, and more diversity, can potentially obscure all those elements of a white, masculinist football culture that remain unchanged, and which women are often expected to fit into, or meet the standard of, in order to get a seat at the table. On the face of it, a commitment to both football and feminism might seem like a strange mix. I often ask myself how it is possible to reconcile these two aspects of my identity. And yet, I’ve come to understand the conflicts I often feel as generative and valuable emotions.

Alongside the pleasure, pain, connection and enjoyment that being a football fan brings to my life, I accept those feelings of frustration, anger and disappointment that well up regularly in response to persistent negative attitudes towards women in AFL. I accept them because they embolden me to keep questioning the policies, practices and initiatives put in place by the AFL to promote the involvement of women and other groups who by virtue of ethnicity, religion, sexuality or (dis)ability have not traditionally been considered the norm in football.

For feminist football fans like myself, we need to ask clubs and the League to detail what equality and fairness would look like in a truly diverse and inclusive AFL, and what they are prepared to do to translate social action into social change.

Originally published in Sheilas, the newsletter of the Victorian Women’s Trust.

Confessions of a feminist footy fan

What our sociologists are doing

Dr Anna Halafoff and Matthew Clarke were featured in a post on the Religious Studies Project website on the 2015 Joint Conferences of the New Zealand and Australian Associations for the Study of Religion where Anna presented a paper arising from their research on ‘Sacred Places as Development Spaces’.

Dr Anna Halafoff has been appointed to the Editorial Board of the Sociology of Religion Journal (Oxford Journals) and to the International Advisory Board of the British Journal of Religious Education (Taylor & Francis). Both are prestigious journals in their respective fields.