Troubled Transformations: Teenagers' Affective and Socio-Cultural Negotiations in the Changing Room

Ombyte i praktiken: Tonåringars affektiva och sociokulturella förhandlingar i omklädningsrummet

Project Leader

  • Åsa Bäckström


  • Department of Movement, Culture and Society

Research Funders

  • Swedish National Centre for Research in Sports


Below you can read summaries about the project in English and/or Swedish. The information is taken from the publication database DiVA.

The changing room as a transitional space between everyday life and physical activity has been a largely unexplored field. To date, Swedish studies have only touched upon the changing room situation as part of other topics. This neglect is surprising as changing rooms are frequented on a weekly basis by pupils in compulsory school and by physically active people in various sport settings. The transition includes potentially vulnerable situations which may cause experiences of affective insecurity and shame. Showering seem particularly problematic raising questions of hygiene. A certain category, teenagers, appear to be more susceptible to social insecurity in this context than children and adults. Changing rooms largely differ and so do the ways they are used, if they are used at all.

What are the multiple meanings that can be ascribed to the changing room situation? How do teenagers (15 y/o) negotiate their social, cultural and material practices in and around these spaces, including issues of hygiene? What are their sensorial and affective experiences?

Short and focused ethnography including visual video recordings will be used. Making use of recent technology offers novel ways of analytical work. Video recorded semi-structured interviews in a material environment provides rich and multi-layered data, as the participants will be interviewed in the actual changing rooms the teenagers normally use. For ethical reasons the research participants will be fully dressed and the changing rooms will be empty of other people.

Potentially vulnerable situations may cause experiences of affective insecurity, leading to dilemmas both in and outside the changing room. The affective insecurity and shameful situations may induce reluctance for using the changing room and influence young people’s willingness to be physically active, causing a neglect of hygiene and physical activity, in turn important factors for good health. Dirt and cleanliness are important aspects of the changing room situation. This study will provide a qualitative understanding of how selected teenagers negotiate and experiences changing and the changing rooms as part of their PEH-classes and as part of their leisure activities. Our results will hopefully allow for new ways of addressing changing and showering in relation to PEH-classes and sport in general, and a deeper understand of how the various conditions affect the practices taking place.

Ombyte är avgörande för fysisk aktivitet, och omklädningsrum används dagligen av idrottare. Trots det har vad som sker där mestadels studerats som del av något annat, t.ex. konstruktionen av genus. I skolan är omklädningsrummet den plats där ungdomar känner sig mest otrygga. Bland tonåringar är det därför vanligt att undvika ombyte och dusch, vilket får konsekvenser för såväl idrottande som för hygien.

I den här studien undersöks om och hur 15-åringar använder omklädningsrum i skolan och på fritiden. Hur gör de rent praktiskt och hur tänker de kring hur de gör? Vad betyder exempelvis nakenhet, svett och smuts? Spelar det någon roll hur duscharna är placerade? Genom etnografisk metodologi bidrar projektet med en djupare förståelse för omklädningsrumspraktikens hinder och möjligheter.


  • Lisa Svärling, GIH, Department of Movement, Culture and Society

Funding period

  • 2022 - 2023

Project type

  • Project grant

National Research Field

  • Sociology
  • Sport and Fitness Sciences