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RN28 - Society and Sports

RN28 studies the role sport plays in contemporary societies, how that role has changed over time, and whether and how sports foster or inhibit social cohesion and inequality.

Sport plays a central role in contemporary societies and thus continues to fire the sociological imagination. Sport has a long history of uniting people, of overcoming differences, of teaching norms and values while participating in teams and in clubs, of inspiring young people to set goals and follow their dreams, and of stimulating older people to remain physically active. At the same time, sport is said to divide; to celebrate differences; to exclude those that are less fit or less successful in sports; to elicit aggression and corruption; to individualize and commercialize, and move away from its origins in volunteering and sport-clubs.

These are the key issues that are central to RN28 Society and Sports. What role does sport play in contemporary societies? How has that role developed over the past decades? In these turbulent times, can sport act as a binding and liberating force, or is that too much to ask of sports? Does it matter, from a social cohesion perspective, whether people are engaged in team-sports and join clubs, or whether they buy their way into sport like in fitness or sport on their own, e.g. as in running? How easily can sports be incorporated into the global health agenda, tackling the obesity epidemic? Can sport bring the fun back in health, and if so, how does that in turn alter sports? Why is it that higher social strata continue to be more engaged in sports than lower social strata? Will ‘sport for all’ ever be more than a dream or an inspiring goal? Or does sport continue to exclude as much as it includes? Can sport-events make a difference in this? And if not, what policies can – and how likely is it that such policies will be developed?

Twitter: @EsaRn28