UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A historical-ethnographic account of a Canadian woman in sport, 1920-1938 : the story of Margaret (Bell) Gibson Laubman, Katherine M.


This study attempted to discover and describe the cultural knowledge and understandings that Margaret (Bell) Gibson derived from her performance as a highly successful athlete in Canadian women's sport during the 1920s - 1930s. A case study approach was used that employed qualitative research strategies. This approach was considered appropriate as prominent issues in women's lives are subtle and context-bound. A series of five informal interviews was conducted with Bell, using an ethnographic approach developed by Spradley (1979). Each interview was recorded and transcribed into text. The text was then validated by Bell, prior to analysis by the researcher. An inductive-reflexive analysis of the text was employed, as much of the information emerged as Bell recalled her experiences in sport. This involved the use of an evolving methodology, which identified classifications of knowledge and structures of thought as they were revealed. Bell's narrative was contextually-grounded in a review of Canadian history from 1920 to 1938, as this seemed to connect Bell's experience as a sportswoman to the broader socio-historical milieu. Findings were substantiated through a process of triangulated inquiry wherein verification was sought from newspaper clippings, official records, and historical documents. The analysis of Bell's narrative revealed a complex system of knowledge based on categories of information related to the structure of sport, social network, jumping, cultural activities, concepts of space and timing, and role definition. Documentation of the major sporting events Bell experienced, as an athlete, was also recorded. Implications for future research were discussed.

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