New Perspectives on Sport and Deviance: Consumption, Performativity, and Social Control

New Perspectives on Sport and Deviance: Consumption, Performativity, and Social Control

New Perspectives on Sport and Deviance: Consumption, Performativity, and Social Control

New Perspectives on Sport and Deviance: Consumption, Performativity, and Social Control

Synopsis

The everyday makeup of contemporary sport is increasingly characterised by a perceived explosion of 'deviance' - violence, drug taking, racism, homophobia, misogyny, corruption and excess. Whereas once these behaviours may have been subject to the moral judgments of authority, in the face of dramatic socio-cultural change they become more a matter of populist consumer gaze. In addressing these developments the book provides a new and insightful approach toward the study of 'deviance' in the realm of sport. New Perspectives in Sport and 'Deviance' awakens the sociology of sport to the possibilities of re-imagining 'deviance' and offers an evocative approach which will appeal both to academics and students in the field of sociology of sport and sociology of deviance.

Excerpt

Endings or new beginnings?

No-one can make sense of the notion of a last commentary, a last discussion note, a good piece of writing which is more than the occasion for a better piece

(Richard Rorty)

It perhaps seems incongruous to be confronted with a book about the sociology of deviance in sport when in the wider realm of orthodox sociology the subject area was pronounced dead a decade ago. Indeed, invoking a Barthesian interpretation, Colin Sumner (1994) in announcing the death of the sociology of deviance set about writing the obituary of the field of study. Sumner is the most important chronicler of the sociology of deviance and his eschatological account suggested that the academy no longer had a part and purpose for the sociology of deviance as its utility had been exhausted (Downes and Rock, 1998). In pronouncing this 'death', the central premise underpinning Sumner's argument was that it had become increasingly impossible to justify the existence of the concept of 'social deviance' - whereby what he meant was 'that which is censured as deviant from the standpoint of the norms of the dominant culture' (Sumner, 2001:89). What is could no longer be conceived as either 'good' or 'bad', 'normal' or 'deviant' - it had become merely is. The crux of Sumner's argument was that even before the 1990s it had become increasingly impossible to justify the existence of the concept of 'deviance' in a plural world in which no one distinctive meaning of what was supposed to be 'deviant' should be allowed to gain ascendancy. Since no social group should be able to dominate, no person was being dominated in any singular sense, and no ground existed for any one principle of what could or should be constituted as 'deviant'.

As far as Sumner was concerned the efficacy of the sociology of deviance was exhausted once it had been established that there could no longer be any satisfactory or general agreed definition of what 'deviance' is - and therefore no way of being certain we could ever distinguish it. Sumner's conclusion was that human action only becomes 'good' or 'bad', 'normal' or 'deviant' when looked at and interpreted from the point of view of some alternative ideological position. Another way of thinking about Sumner's invocation of the 'death of deviance' then was his idea that the ideological constitution of what was tacitly understood as 'deviance' had actually outstripped the theory used to describe it.

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