The Sociology of Sport and Physical Education: An Introductory Reader

The Sociology of Sport and Physical Education: An Introductory Reader

The Sociology of Sport and Physical Education: An Introductory Reader

The Sociology of Sport and Physical Education: An Introductory Reader


This text, intended for undergraduates on various education and sport related degree courses, covers the key, current issues in the field of sociology of sport and physical education. The first section of the text covers the importance of sport in culture, its theoretical background, and methodological issues in research. The main body of the text then discusses issues including the sporting body, participation and socialisation into sport, the hidden curriculum, critical pedagogy, and sport and the media. Laker discusses in depth gender, race and ethnicity, class, and equality, and he looks at sport and the media, and the involvement of politics. The chapters are each rounded off with challenging 'reflection' questions, activities and tasks for the reader to fulfil.


The original idea for this book was born some years ago when I was teaching ‘sociology of sport and physical education’ to undergraduates in Plymouth, most of whom were training to be teachers. I noticed that my references and recommendations for additional reading were from both British and American authors. This was fine when I was referring students to specific topics, as both countries have fine traditions of sport sociology research and writing. I was able to cite particular chapters or articles that my students could go away and study. My problem came when asked to recommend one text that could be used as a course reader. There were many such books from American authors, but British authors had been much more specialised in their writing and there wasn’t a ‘one stop’ book reference that I could supply. This book is intended to fill that gap and is therefore aimed at undergraduate students of sport, physical education, recreation and leisure; indeed, it is for any student interested in sport as a social phenomenon.

The result is a compilation of writings from the leading academic authors of their generation. I have been very fortunate that I was able to persuade these colleagues, friends and, in some cases, heroes to contribute to this book. I feel privileged to be able to write in their company.

There are twelve topics, each covered by one of the twelve chapters. At the end of each chapter there are some questions for students to reflect on. These could also be used as test, or examination, questions. The tasks suggested are designed to encourage students to engage with the material and to develop a personal context in which to interpret the subject matter of the chapter topic. Most of the tasks can be done in groups to encourage the social interaction so important in the constructivist, and social learning, formation of knowledge and understanding. Students who develop a particular interest will find the recommended further reading useful when pursuing their interest.

The way this book is used is, of course, entirely up to the course tutor or lecturer. However, the concept and layout lend themselves to being used as a course reader, an introductory text that supplements a series of lectures. The first three chapters cover what might be called the necessary background information of the importance and place of sport in culture, the theoretical background and the research methodologies prevalent in sport and physical education research. This provides a sound theoretical context on which to base the topic chapters that follow.

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