Professor Holly Thorpe
Holly is a Professor in Te Huataki Waiora / School of Health at the University of Waikato.
An award-winning sociologist, she is a recipient of both Fulbright and Leverhulme Fellowships. In 2018, Holly was awarded the Royal Society Early Career Research Excellence Award for Social Sciences, and made a Fellow of the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport.
Her research interests include:
- Action sports and youth cultures
- Women, sport, fitness and gender
- The health and wellbeing of sportswomen
- Social media and new media technologies
- Critical Sport for Development Studies, and sport for recovery.
Professor Thorpe is passionate about doing research that meets the demands of understanding sport, health and wellbeing in a rapidly changing world. She continues to seek new innovations in social theory, qualitative methods, and strives to work across the disciplines to better understand the complexities of moving bodies and sporting cultures.
Holly is driven to do research that has real work impact and she works closely with an array of international and national sports organizations (e.g., International Olympic Committee, High Performance New Zealand, Sport New Zealand) to inform new practices, processes and policy development.
- Feminist New Materialisms, Sport and Fitness: A Lively Entanglement (with Julie Brice and Marianne Clark)
- Transnational Mobilities in Action Sport Cultures
- Snowboarding Bodies in Theory and Practice
- Sport, Physical Culture and the Moving Body: Materialisms, Technologies, Ecologies (with Joshua Newman and David Andrews)
- New Sporting Femininities: Embodied Politics in Postfeminist Times (with Associate Professors Kim Toffoletti and Jessica Francombe-Webb).
- Routledge Handbook of Physical Cultural Studies (with Professors Michael Silk and David Andrews)
- Women in Action Sport Cultures: Identity, Experiences, and Politics (with Dr Rebecca Olive)
- Berkshire Encyclopedia of Extreme Sport(with Professor Douglas Booth)
Holly is co-editor with Toffoletti and Francombe-Webb of a new series with Palgrave Macmillan titled New Femininities in Digital, Physical and Sporting Cultures She has recently finished a three year term as Associate Editor of the Journal of Sociology, and is on the editorial board for the International Review for the Sociology of Sport and Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health.
A Selection of Recent Projects
In 2016, Thorpe won a three year Marsden Fast-Start grant focused on youth engagement with informal sports in sites of war, conflict and disaster. As part of this project she developed the Action Sport for Development and Peace organisation, an online community for those working in ASDP NGOs and projects around the world. That same year she also gave a TedX talk on the topic of 'Action Sports for a Better World'.
She was recently co-Primary Investigator with Professor Belinda Wheaton on an International Olympic Committee Advanced Research Programme Grant exploring youths' attitudes towards the Olympic Games, with a focus on action sports. Thorpe presented their findings at the IOC in Switzerland 2016 and has been invited to speak at various other IOC-related events. This collaborative work with Wheaton went on to play an important role in informing the IOC's inclusion of surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing into the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. They have a book forthcoming based on this research, title Action Sports and the Olympic Games: Past, Present, Future (Routledge, 2021).
Another key strand of Holly's research has been the health and wellbeing of sportswomen, and has organized two national interdisciplinary Female Athlete Health Symposiums (2015, 2017). Holly is an inaugural member of the High Performance Sport New Zealand WHISPA (Women's Health in Sport) working group, and continues to advocate for the importance of understanding the impact of sporting cultures (and broader social pressures) on sportswomen's health and wellbeing. She continues to explore the potential of transdisciplinary approaches for new ways of understanding the health of women in sport and exercise. Read about some of this recent research in the LockerRoom or listen to Holly discuss some of this work on RNZ
Recently, Holly has collaborated with Dr Nida Ahmad on a project with Sport New Zealand (Dr Justin Richards) and Sport Waikato (Dr Amy Marfell) focused on Muslim women in sport and active recreation. This research resulted in the report "Building Cultural Inclusion in Sport: Insights from Muslim Women in Sport and Active Recreation" and a symposium bringing together Muslim sportswomen and the sports sector. Listen to Holly and Nida discuss this research on RNZ.
Holly is passionate about working with graduate students at Masters and PhD levels, particularly those interested in sport and gender, new approaches to understanding the complexities of embodied sporting and fitness experiences, youth sport, action/extreme sports, and/or Sport for Development and Peace Studies, innovations in social theory (i.e., new materialisms) and qualitative methods, and welcomes enquiries.
Project Title / Topic
Playing with ethics? A Foucauldian examination of the construction of ethical subjectivities in Ultimate Frisbee
The Experiences of Finnish Snowboarders
Understanding the 'National Sport for New Zealand Women': A Socio-Spatial Analysis of Netball
Sport in the Waikato c1897-1974: Narratives of Play, Identity and Belonging
Supportive environments for active living? A case study of local government discourses of the built and social environments and physical activity
Young women’s negotiation of multiple fields of femininity and physicality in physical activity and Physical Education in an international school in Taiwan
Netball in the lives of New Zealand women: An intergenerational study
Getting Deep: Experiences of New Zealand Bodyboarders
Understanding female secondary school students’ experiences of outdoor education in Aotearoa New Zealand
Topic: Muslim sportswomen's use of social media
Topic: New Zealand sex workers experiences of sport and fitness
Topic: Photography, place-making and the Te Awa River-Ride
Topic: Skateboarding and the experiences of Black and Minorities in the United States of America
Topic: Glocalization and Parkour in New Zealand
Topic: The Yogic Lifestyle in Contemporary Society
Topic: Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S) in Elite Athlete Populations
Topic: Athleisure and Feminist New Materialisms
Topic: Management strategies towards legitimate action sport federations: a national structure for Skateboarding New Zealand.
|Mihi Nemani**||PhD||Topic: The Role of Physical Activity in the lives of Young Māori and Pasifika Wahine||Current|
* = University of Waikato Scholarship
** = Sport New Zealand Scholarship
Schofield, K. L., Thorpe, H., & Sims, S. T. (2021). Feminist Sociology Confluences With Sport Science: Insights, Contradictions, and Silences in Interviewing Elite Women Athletes About Low Energy Availability. Journal of Sport and Social Issues. doi:10.1177/01937235211012171
Thorpe, H., & Wheaton, B. (2021). Young Gazan refugees, sport and social media: Understanding migration as a process of becoming. International Migration Review. doi:10.1177/0197918320988247
Thorpe, H., Brice, J., & Clark, M. (2021). Physical activity and bodily boundaries in times of pandemic. In D. Lupton, & K. Willis (Eds.), The COVID-19 Crisis Social Perspectives (pp. 39-52). New York: Routledge. doi:10.4324/9781003111344-6
Heather, A. K., Thorpe, H., Ogilvie, M., Sims, S. T., Beable, S., Milsom, S., . . . Hamilton, B. (2021). Biological and socio-cultural factors have the potential to influence the health and performance of elite female athletes: A cross sectional survey of 219 elite female athletes in Aotearoa New Zealand. Frontiers in Sports and Active Living, 3. doi:10.3389/fspor.2021.601420 Open Access version: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/14134
Find more research publications by Holly Thorpe
Advertising and Sport; Children's and Youth Sport; Culture; Extreme/Alternative Sports; Gender; Globalisation; Health; Race and Gender in Sport; Social Issues in Sport; Social Science Research; Sociology; Sports; Tourism; Women and Gender Studies; Youth
Contact DetailsEmail: [email protected]