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.
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).