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 focused 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.

Toni is also in the midst of analysing the results of research from the 2015 Rugby World Cup, which builds on her earlier research during the 2011 and 2007 Cups.  Her focus is on the meanings of Rugby World Cups to New Zealanders, especially the connection to national identity.

In the public eye:

She blogs about sport at

Teaching | Current

Sociocultural Foundations of Sport, Health and PE (undergraduate)

Sport in Society (general education)

Media Literacy in Education Contexts (postgraduate)

Upgrade: Skills for Postgraduate Study (continuing education)

Digital Sportscapes (postgraduate)


Regular guest lectures in:

Sport Media (undergraduate in Media, Film and Television)

Learning Sexualities (general 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.

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 is a founding board member of Women in Sport Aotearoa (launched in 2017)
  • She is on the Executive Committee of WomenSport International
  • She currently serves on the Editorial Board of the International Review for the Sociology of Sport, Communication and Sport, and the European Journal for Sport and Society,
  • She was co-editor of the Waikato Journal of Education, 2002-2007

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • 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