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Personal profile

Personal profile

I am a lecturer in sociology of sport at Abertay University. My research interests centre around embodiment in sport, gender, and relationships developed in sport. In particular, I am interested in how sports practice does, or does not, build embodiments and relationships that challenge hierarchical notions of difference that are used to fuel social inequalities of gender and class.

Prior to lecturing at Abertay I completed an undergraduate, masters in research, and PhD at the University of Edinburgh. My masters in research was fully funded by the school of social and political sciences at the University of Edinburgh, and my PhD was fully funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. My PhD research explored gendered embodiment in mixed-sex karate practice, highlighting ways in which mixed-sex practice reduced embodied power relations between women and men.

Alongside my academic interests in sport, I am also a karate practitioner, coach, and competitor. I competed for Scotland internationally for over 10 years, with titles including multiple times Scottish, British, and Commonwealth champion, alonside medals from multiple international events such as the European University Karate Championships and World Karate Championships. As a former elite athlete I also have an interest in the wellbeing of elite athletes and supporting students balancing the demands of academia and performance sport.


SPS101 Social sciences of sport and exercise

SPS 204 Social sciences of physical activity and health

SPS 207 Work placement and skill development 

SPS 312 Research Methods

Research interests

Research Interests

Gender; Embodiment; Violence against women; Social class; Sports violence; Intimate relationships in sport; Ethnography; Sensory Research Methods.

Previous Research

My previous research explored embodiments of gender in mixed sex karate practice, and the role of the senses in informing and performing gender. As a combative sport, karate is an arena many would imagine to be a male domain, and a place to reproduce notions of hegemonic masculinity through combative dominance. However, far from being a male domain, karate in Scotland is a sport that involves many women who train together with men in the same classes, and under-going the same practices. It is a sport oozing action, agility, sweaty body-to-body contact, speed, pain, elegance, domination, companionship, tacit tactics, bruises, and sporting respect. In this arena women can, and often are, recognised as more skilled technicians than men. My research explored how ideas of gender are negotiated, subverted, and embodied in the inter-bodily experience of mixed-sex karate training, and what lessons this can bring for developing gender equality in sport and society more broadly.


2013-2016 Economic and Social Research Council PhD funding

2012-2013 Masters by Research Special Athletic Scholarship by the School of Social and Political Science, Edinburgh University


2018 Scottish Graduate School of Social Science 'Knowledge Exchange and Impact Award' shortlisted nominee

2017 European Association for the Sociology of Sport 'Young Researcher Award'

2015 Scottish Women in Sport 'Role model of the year' shortlisted nominee

2014-2015 Edinburgh University Teaching Awards shortlist nominee

Knowledge Exchange

Scottish karate director

I am the director of women and girls interests' for the Scottish Karate Governing Body. I work with Scottish karate to ensure encouraging and empowering treatment of women and girls in the sport. Findings from my research have guided actions taken by Scottish karate such as: a 'women and girls coaching week', international women's day celebrations, and a guidance for coaching women and girls toolkit.  In 2016 karate was the fastest growing sport amongst girls.

Knowledge exchange publications

Through my research and position within scottish karate I have developed connections with groups such as Scottish Women in Sport and The Dangerous Women Project. Below are a collection of my knowledge exchange articles:

Maclean, C. 2018. Scottish Karate Governing Body's Guidance for Coaching Women and Girls. Available online: https://skgb.com/images/documents/SKGB-guidance-women-girls.pdf

Maclean, C. 2016. Fighting like a woman Blog post for 'The dangerous women project. Avaiable online at: http://dangerouswomenproject.org/2016/06/13/karate-women/

Maclean, C. 2016. Scottish Karate Governing Bodies 'Women's coaching week'. Scottish Women in Sport Blog. Available online at: http://www.scottishwomeninsport.co.uk/blog-35-scottish-karate-governing-bodys-womens-coaching-week/

Maclean, C. 2016. Sport and violence against women. Blog post for 'It aint necessarily so'. Available online at: https://itaint-necessarilyso.squarespace.com/articles/2016/1/18/sport-and-violence-against-women

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Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 2015 2019

Antecedents and consequences of parental involvement in youth sport experience

Price, V., Calmeiro, L., Lavallee, D. & MacLean, C., 25 Oct 2019, p. 119-120. 2 p.

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract

Open Access

Knowing your place and commanding space: de/constructions of gendered embodiment in mixed-sex karate

MacLean, C., 23 Jun 2019, In : Leisure Studies. 38, 6, p. 818-830 13 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

gender relations

‘It used to be brutal, now it’s an art’: changing negotiations of violence and masculinity in British karate

MacLean, C., 20 Sep 2019, The Palgrave handbook of masculinity and sport. Magrath, R., Cleland, J. & Anderson, E. (eds.). Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, p. 97-116 20 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

combat sport

Scottish Karate Governing Body's guidance for coaching women and girls

MacLean, C., 2018, 16 p. Scottish Karate Governing Body.

Research output: Other contribution

Open Access

Friendships worth fighting for: bonds between women and men karate practitioners as sites for deconstructing gender inequality

MacLean, C., 21 Mar 2017, Sex integration in sport and physical culture: promises and pitfalls. Channon, A., Dashper, K., Fletcher, T. & Lake, R. (eds.). London: Routledge, p. 1374-1384 11 p. (Sport in the Global Society – Contemporary Perspectives).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

doing gender
social situation