Sport and Society: History, Power and Culture

By Graham Scambler | Go to book overview

Introduction

It is a routine refrain in sociology and many other disciplines that the market for textbooks so beloved of contemporary publishers appears all but exhausted. There already exists, for example, a multiplicity of excellent student texts on the sociology of sport, many but not all arising out of North America and Europe. Perhaps the publication in the symbolic year of 2000 of the Handbook of Sports Studies, edited by Coakley and Dunning, represents a culmination of this expansion. So why then another introduction to the sociology of sport? A first point in defence is that this volume is not a conventional textbook. While it offers fairly wide-ranging coverage of the now considerable body of theory and research on sports phenomena, albeit with clear foci on Western 'history, power and culture' and in later chapters on disorganized capitalism, and hopefully in a way accessible to undergraduate students, it is characterized by a strong critical impulse. Exegesis is typically accompanied by rebuttals and qualifications, offspring of a commitment, logical and moral, to a reflexive critical sociology of sport. And second, Sport and Society aspires to make a contribution in its own right to the manner in which, and the agenda with which, reflexive critical sociologists of sport conduct their investigations. This is not a claim to significant originality: undeniably, the book owes much to the pioneers and present practitioners of sport sociology. However, the attempt to learn from and apply the critical realist philosophy of Roy Bhaskar and the critical social theory of Jürgen Habermas, deploying what I call the jigsaw model, does amount to some kind of innovation. The result is a tentative and provisional but also distinctive frame within which the changing social relations of sport might appropriately be considered. It is a frame turning on the proposition that the day-to-day pursuit of exercise and sport in the lifeworld is being – increasingly rapidly – 'colonized' by an excessive and unaccountable system rationalization, that is, manipulated by

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Sport and Society: History, Power and Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Issues in Society Series Editor: Tim May ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Series Editor's Preface vii
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part One - History and Sport 5
  • 1: The Ancient Games 7
  • 2: The Genesis of Modern Sport 29
  • 3: The Modern Olympiads 48
  • Part Two - Features of Contemporary Sport 73
  • 4: Exercise, Sport and Health 75
  • 5: Sport and Violence: a 'De-Civilizing Spurt'? 93
  • 6: The Colonization and Mediation of Sport 116
  • Part Three - Social Theory and Sport 139
  • 7: Sociological Perspectives on Sport 141
  • 8: Towards a Critical Sociology of Sport 162
  • References 183
  • Index 197
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