Sport and Society: History, Power and Culture

By Graham Scambler | Go to book overview

8

Towards a Critical Sociology of Sport

In this final chapter foundations are tentatively laid for a new orientation to the sociology of sport. In the opening paragraphs the philosophy of critical realism is introduced via some general reflections on the concept of social structure. Based on the pioneering work of Bhaskar, critical realism takes seriously not only the epistemology but the ontology of social structures. In fact, it is the pronouncement of the 'epistemic fallacy' – that is, the commonplace conflation of our knowledge of what exists with what exists – that provides Bhaskar with his starting point. The second section draws on the wide-ranging theory of communicative action of Habermas to outline a critical theoretical framework for understanding and empirically investigating the dynamics of society in disorganized or global capitalism, together with the changing role of sporting phenomena. In the third section the jigsaw model is introduced and its potential for the sociology of sport explored. The closing section offers a summary statement of the 'overall picture' of sport in disorganized capitalism, leading to an agenda for future research.


Agency and the Ontology of Social Structures

Almost independently of the aspirations of their founders and proponents, some of the paradigms summarized in Chapter 7 seemed to emerge from or lend themselves to a focus on agency (e.g. interpretive sociology and possibly feminism and post-structuralism/postmodernism), while others seemed to favour structure (e.g. functionalism, conflict theory and possibly figurational sociology). Acceptance of agency is crucial and possible, but requires qualification. Rational action presupposes freedom of will, but it will be suggested here that 'weakness of will', not freedom of will, is the rule rather than the exception (see Searle, 2001).

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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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