Professor Toni Bruce

PhD, MSc, BPhEd(Dist)


Toni Bruce is Professor in the School of Curriculum and Pedagogy.

Toni is a graduate of the University of Otago and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA. She has taught at universities in the United States, Australia and New Zealand in the areas of qualitative methodologies, advanced research skills, and sport sociology, and well as sport media, management, marketing, public relations and literature.

Her research encompasses a range of qualitative and quantitative methodologies, including autoethnography and ethnographic fiction. Her research interests lie in the areas of gender, race and ethnicity, national identity and media theory and practice. This work is informed by feminism, interpretive interactionism and cultural studies theories.

Educational History:

- 1995 University of Illinois, PhD, Kinesiology (Sociology of Sport)
- 1993 University of Illinois, MSc, Kinesiology (Sociology of Sport)
- 1987 University of Otago, BPhEd (Dist), Physical Education
- 1978 Auckland Technical Institute, Journalism Certificate

Research | Current

Toni is currently engaged in ethnographic fieldwork on netball fandom in New Zealand, alongside her colleague Dr Margaret Henley. This involves observations and conversation with fans, including at netball events, and analysis of television and newspaper coverage of netball.

Toni is also researching the meaning of Rugby World Cups to New Zealanders. She will be running her quadrennial online survey in 2019, which builds on her earlier research during the 2015, 2011 and 2007 Cups. She is particularly interested in the connections between the All Blacks and national identity.

To participate in my 2019 Rugby World Cup research, please click on the link below to complete a survey that seeks the views of people living in New Zealand, whether you love, hate, are mildly interested in or don’t care about rugby. You are welcome to share this link with others.

In the public eye:

She occasionally blogs about sport at

Teaching | Current

Sociocultural Foundations of Sport, Health and PE (undergraduate)

Sport in Society (general education)

Sport Media (co-offered with Media and Communications)


Regular guest lectures in:

Digital Sportscapes (postgraduate)


Former teaching in:

Media Literacy in Education Contexts (postgraduate)

Upgrade: Skills for Postgraduate Study (continuing education)

Postgraduate supervision

Toni's interdisciplinary background means she has supervised, and is currently supervising doctoral and masters students in a wide range of areas related to sport, media, and representations of gender, race/ethnicity and disability.  Much of this work has been presented at conferences and published, and I strongly encourage students I work with to share their findings with both academic and non-academic audiences.

At the doctoral level, these include: 

  • Understanding sport media representation of sportswomen - a cultural studies investigation of media production, content and reception by female athletes
  • Reflective practice in art-making; Sport fandom, masculinity, and Formula 1 
  • Using social theories to explore female youth physical culture
  • Pakeha working in Maori contexts - Negotiating the third space
  • A Foucauldian genealogy of women’s football in New Zealand
  • A phenomenological understanding of the 'essence' of alternative education tutors, via found poetry;
  • Embodied experiences of pain and injury from non-Western perspectives
  • What it means to be a young carer for a family member with a disability
  • Gifted girls, schools and social media
    Online racism and anti-racism interventions;
  • A social construction of technology (SCOT) approach to understanding the decisions to adopt technology in tertiary institutions.

She is supervising and has supervised Masters theses in areas such as:

  • Islamaphobia, Orientalism and New Zealand media representations of Muslims and Islam
  • Understanding South Auckland - Media representations and young people's responses
  • Racism in sport - Maori voices speak the unspoken
  • Gifted female school leaders' engagements with Facebook - A phenomenological investigation
  • Media coverage of women's sport, the Commonwealth Games and nationalism
  • Media representations of the 2010 FIFA (men’s) World Cup
  • An auto-ethnography of dance and identity
  • Reflective practice and dance
  • Female football players’ experiences of their place in football culture.


Inaugural Research Fellow, North American Society for the Sociology of Sport

Areas of expertise

  • Media studies
  • News media analysis and theory
  • Journalism
  • Sociology of sport and physical culture
  • Cultural studies theories
  • Interpretive interactionism
  • Alternative research methodologies, including auto-ethnography, ethnographic fiction, collective stories
  • Qualitative research methodologies, including in-depth interviewing, surveys, fieldwork, textual analysis of media, content analysis of news media

Committees/Professional groups/Services

  • Toni is a Past President of the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport 
  • She was a founding board member of Women in Sport Aotearoa (launched in 2017)
  • She is former Secretary and current extended board member of WomenSport International
  • She currently serves on the Editorial Boards of the International Review for the Sociology of Sport, Communication and Sport, the European Journal for Sport and Society, and Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health.
  • She was co-editor of the Waikato Journal of Education, 2002-2007

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Liu, L., & Bruce, T. (2020). Extending understandings of risk in organised sport. INTERNATIONAL REVIEW FOR THE SOCIOLOGY OF SPORT, 55 (6), 726-746. 10.1177/1012690219841604
  • Bruce, T. (2019). The case for faction as a potent method for integrating fact and fiction in research. Innovations in Narrative and Metaphor: Methodologies and Practices (pp. 57-72). 10.1007/978-981-13-6114-2_5
  • Henley, M., & Bruce, T. (2019). Netball: Carving Out Media & Corporate Success in a Game for All Girls. In N. Geurin, A. N. Lough (Eds.) Routledge Handbook of the Business of Women's Sport. New York: Routledge.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Margaret Henley
  • Desmarais, F., & Bruce, T. (2018). 'Mediating' national anxieties via stereotyping the French ‘threatening Other’: Analysis of the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand media coverage. In D. Ingenhoff, C. White, A. Buhmann, S. Kiousis (Eds.) Bridging Disciplinary Perspectives of Country Image Reputation, Brand, and Identity. New York: Routledge. 10.4324/9781315271224-7
  • Thorpe, H., Toffoletti, K., & Bruce, T. (2017). Sportswomen and social media: Bringing third-wave feminism, postfeminism, and neoliberal feminism into conversation. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 41 (5), 359-383. 10.1177/0193723517730808
  • Bruce, T., & Antunovic, D. (2017). Gender, media and new media methods. The Palgrave Handbook of Feminism and Sport, Leisure and Physical Education (pp. 257-273). 10.1057/978-1-137-53318-0_17
  • Bruce, T. (2017). Stories from an academic life: Reflections on being/doing/thinking/teaching in sociology of sport. (pp. 1-15). 10.1108/S1476-285420170000010001
  • Bruce, T. (2017). The Rugby World Cup experience: Interrogating the oscillating poles of love and hate. In L. A. Wenner, A. C. Billings (Eds.) Sport, media and mega-events (pp. 100-114). New York: Routledge.


Contact details

Office hours

Email for an appointment. I am always available for half an hour after classes.

Primary office location

Level 5, Room 524
New Zealand

Web links