Moving the Goalposts: A History of Sport and Society since 1945

By Martin Polley | Go to book overview

Chapter 5

Sport, social class, and professional status

INTRODUCTION

One of the most obvious ways in which sport is seen to connect with its setting is through its links with class stratification. Without being overly deterministic, it is clear that access to leisure in general, and sport in particular, has historically been constrained by time, space, and disposable income, all of which are variable across class lines. Organised sports have thus historically developed with class characters, so that sports themselves have become associated with certain groups. Hopcraft's claim that football spectators 'are never going to sound or look like the hat parade on the club lawns of Cheltenham racecourse' and 'are always going to have more vinegar than Chanel' 1 may well have been a generalisation, but its use of popularly recognisable stereotypes helps to stress the common-sense notion of sport's social segregation. Moreover, John Hargreaves' analysis of modern sport, which stresses the continuity from pre-industrial models of class display in leisure-the 'theatre of the great'-has given the simplistic view in Hopcraft's piece more depth. It has shown how different classes have assumed specific roles within individual sports, based upon wider divisions of labour and wealth, with sports serving to mirror and reproduce wider social relations. 2 The classic example is the trophy-giving ritual at the end of the FA Cup Final, where royal patrons surrounded by a bourgeoisie of administrators reward the players of predominantly working-class backgrounds. The class character of sport is emphasised not just by intrinsic aspects based on rules and assumptions governing conduct during play, but also in the attendant cultures of sports' social and organisational features. It is also a feature of sport of which advertisers and sponsors have been aware. Products and services aimed at target groups through sport demonstrate market researchers' links

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Moving the Goalposts: A History of Sport and Society since 1945
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Abbreviations xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - Sport, Politics, and the State 12
  • Chapter 2 - Sport, the Nation, and the World 35
  • Chapter 3 - Sport, Commerce, and Sponsorship 63
  • Chapter 4 - Sport and Gender 85
  • Chapter 5 - Sport, Social Class, and Professional Status 111
  • Chapter 6 - Sport and Ethnicity 135
  • Conclusion 160
  • Notes 172
  • Bibliography 204
  • Index 223
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