An essay on the historiography of the major actors in French physical education

Research papers
By Christian Vivier

This historiographical study aims to analyze the state of historical productions and, more particularly, of defended theses that have focused on the actors and designers of physical education (PE) in France. As a result, three historical models are identified and characterized. First, the events-based approach focuses on knowing the facts and key stages in the actors’ lives rather than understanding them. It also uses oral sources, mainly to ensure that the historical narrative is “alive.” Second, the explanatory historical model aims to reposition the actors of PE in the light of the theoretical frameworks of the social sciences by focusing on the implications of such positionings. Finally, the comprehensive approach focuses on complex, quality research questions resulting from the use of different approaches—at the same time scientific, contextual, and thematic. It draws on distinct, original, sometimes criticized sources in order to identify a notion, process/mechanism, concept, law, or theory that can be used as a rigorous, coherent historical demonstration. This study is an opportunity to question the history of PE as it is being written, as well as to examine the discipline’s current debates and future.

  • historiography
  • biography
  • actors
  • physical education
  • school
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