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sport as a social contruction

society gives form and meaning to an aspect of life, bound by the conditions of that society. may cause some people to be defensive because they resist the idea that we can or ever should change sports.

The sociological imagination

having a cultural, historical and critical sensitivity to the world around us.

• What is the structure of a particular society and how does it differ from other varieties of social order? - cultural

• Where does this society stand in human history and what are its essential features? - historical question

• What varieties of women and men live in this society and in this period, and what is happening to them? - critical

6 elements that define culture

symbols, social institutions , norms, values, language and technology


The way of life of a people, created by people in a particular society/location.

Cultural Ideologies

Sets of interrelated ideas used To give meaning to the world, make sense of the world, and identify what is important, right, and natural in the world. Open to change - never established 'once and for all time'. They emerge as people struggle over the meaning and organization of social life.
They are complex and sometimes inconsistent.
They change as power relationships change in society.


Distinct sets of behaviour and beliefs that differentiate them from a larger culture of which they are part.
-Distinctive because of age, race, ethnicity, class and/or gender
-Determining qualities: religious, aesthetic, occupational, political, sexual

Dominant ideologies

represents the perspectives and ideas favoured by people who have power and influence in society


the dominance of one group over other groups, so cultural perspectives become skewed to favour the dominant group.

Ancient Greece

Grounded in mythology, Competitors were males from wealthy families, Warrior sports, Violence and serious injury were rife, No measurements/record keeping

Roman Empire

Political, Used to train soldiers, Provide entertainment, Gambling spectators, Used to 'Control' the masses, Received some criticism for mixing social classes, Some connection to religious rituals

Medieval Europe

Served military purpose, Folk games played by peasents, Violent and dangerous, Some rituals connected to the Roman Movement, Ball games played during celebrations, Roots for modern ball games, Major difference in games played in different classes, Gender exclusion still apparent


Greater control over peasants, Simultaneous emerging of the 'scholar-athlete' or 'Renaissance man', Gender restrictions


Calvinism/Puritanism adverse effect of games
Games increase in popularity in Canada due to British & French colonists, Natives/colonists not effected by each other


Many sports emerged that are familiar to today's, No longer related to religious rituals, Equality, Diversions - no use in society, Not thought to effect social life

Industrial Revolution - early years

Sports emerged in wealthy populations
'Blue laws' , By late 19th century the 'Blue Laws' were largely disregarded

Industrial Revolution - later years

Organized clubs, Still limited to the wealthy, Middle class explosion, 'Rational Recreation'

Sports today

Entertainment, professionalization, and commercialism, Masculinity and violence, Nationalism and chauvinism, Gender inequities and homophobia, Racism and racial discrimination, Physical abilities and access to participation, Class dynamics and use of resources, Media images and narratives - misrepresentation of Olympic characteristics


socialization is and active process influenced by the decisions we make or have made for us
Significant other - the agent of socializing that has the biggest influence whether we specialize or diversify has an impact on socialization

Agents of Socialization

The family - competing & being a 'good sport'
Peer group - physical activity & competition
The school - competition, status in sport
Sports clubs/Community groups - teams/other teams
Coaches - training, competition, winning and losing
Religious institutions - Ethical & Moral
The mass media - Role models

Power and performance model

Highly organized & competitive, Strength speed power, Competitive success = excellence, Setting records, Selection system, Hierarchical authority, Idea of 'enemies'

Pleasure & Participation model

Combination of types of connection, Different ethics towards team & opponent, Empowerment
Inclusive, Democratic, Interpersonal support


Early start age in sport, Early involvements in one sport, Early involvement in focused, high intensity training, Early involvement in competitive sport


"Participation in a variety of different sports before deciding to concentrate all efforts on the pursuit of elite performance in one single sport.", 15-16 Years old is prime for specialization
No dis-advantage for elite sports performers, Elite athletes play 3-6 different sports before specializing , Associated with less hours of involvement in the 'chosen' sport before achieving elite status.

Theories about specialization

Social trend, Parents, Coaches, Early peak age of some sports, Weather/geography, Socioeconomic factors, Sport Commercialization, Early recruiting, Sport clubs , Business interest

negatives of specialization

Family concerns, Social Relationships, Coach-athlete relationships, Education concerns, Physical and psychological problems, Drug & dietary problems, Retirement

Arguments for specialization

Education, Skill refinement, Needed in order to "keep up" with others. Satisfies a desire to achieve excellence. A means of helping a marginal player make a varsity team, A means to avoid an injury in another sport. Various body types are suited for particular sports

Positives of diversification

Highly transferable skills

Negatives of diversification

Family dynamic


Pre-competitive anxiety, Intense pressure to win, High expectations from adults, Time constraints, Lack of social life, Feeling of a lack of control over one's life, Depression, Eating disorders, Chronic fatigue

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