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Sociology and its application to sports

Sociological theories

Resources

The following images are just a few of the resources that you should use for this course

What is sociology of sport ?

The science of sociology describes and constructs theories to explain the social relationships that make up a society. (Introduction to Sport,Culture and Society 1989. B.D. McPherson et.al p 5). But to totally understand the definition we must define the four elements in the definition.

What is sociology of sport ?

Science is a careful description of the real world and the building and validation of theories about the real world. Theory is a tentative explanation of things that have been observed in real-life that then forms a base to predict future events.

Social relationships- the avenue of situations where people's social actions affect each other. Society is a collection of social relationships.

Sociological theory: functionalism

The Functionalist theory was based upon the assumption that society can be studied, scientific truths about how societies operate. This leads onto developing a system of social laws that we may be able to understand, control and even change society for the better. Functionalist theorists view the society as an organized system of interrelated parts held together by shared values and social processes that minimize differences and promote consensus among people (sport in society, J.Oakley 2002) Functionalist theory also advocates that the driving force that underlies all social life is the tendency for any social system to maintain itself in a state of balance. This enables it to operate efficiently.

Sociological theory: functionalism

The balance is achieved naturally as pockets of people develop common ground, common values, and co-ordinate organizations in the major aspects of social life i.e. family, education, the economy, the media, politics, religion, leisure and sport. The functionalist theory is used by sociologists to explain how a society, school, community sports team or any social system works. It focuses on how each part in the system contributes to the systems overall operation. E.g. if the Southgate social sports club is the system being studied, the functionalist theory will be concerned with how community, education, media, economy, religion and sport are related to each other and how they work together to contribute to a smooth operation of the society as a whole.

Sociological theory: functionalism

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Social systems according to the functionalist theory operate without problems when they have efficient mechanisms for doing four things. People socialize to learn and accept important cultural values Promoting social connections between people People are motivated to achieve cultural goals through accepted methods The system is protected from disruptive outside influences. It is assumed that if these 4 system needs are met social order will be maintained and everyone will benefit.

Sociological theory: functionalist theory and research on sport

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Most discussions and research about how sports fits into the social life and contributes to stability and social progress ion organizations are usually inspired by the functionalist theory. Do sports and sport participation influence social and personal development Do sports and sport participation foster development of social integration in groups, communities and societies. Does playing sports have a positive impact on success in school and work and does it teach people to follow the rules as they strive for success.

Sociological theory: functionalist theory and everyday life

People around the world today use popularised versions of the functionalist theory to make decisions about sports and sports programs at national and local levels e.g. a sports community development officer, local youth centre manager. The promotion of development and growth of organized youth sports is to build values, to fund a further ed. or varsity sports program, is to promote organisational loyalty and attachments to the schools. To fund and televise the COMMONWEALTH GAMES is to promote goodwill and unity among countries.

Weaknesses of the functionalist theory

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The theory has three major weaknesses when it is used to study sports in society It overstates the positive effects and understates the negative effects of sports in society The theory is based on the assumption the groups in society have the same needs as the society as a whole. The theory does not account that sports are social constructions made and defined by human beings as they make decisions about what is important in their lives and how they are connected together.

Conflict theory

Is sports just about the money and economic power ? This theory is based on the ideas of Karl Marx. People have a concept that society is a system of social structures and relationships that are powerfully shaped by economic forces. Its is assumed that money, wealth and economic power shape how society is organized and how it operates. It also assumed that our social lives revolve around economic interests and that people use their economic power to nudge and manipulate others to accept their view of the world as the right view. This means anyone using the conflict theory is concerned with class relations

Conflict theory

The conflict theory is similar to the functionalist theory as they both seek to develop a general theory about how society operates as a system. Therefore the conflict theory deals with the assumption that economic power in capitalist societies is so strong that progressive changes can only happen if people without economic power are aware that a change is needed and then take radical actions to cause the changes in the organization of the economy and society. Therefore the conflict theorists assume that the major sports in society ultimately promote money and economic power that are the interests of the people that control the sports organizations.

Conflict theory It is argued that sports focuses on the emotions and the attention on the people who do not have any economic power, that sports is used to distract them from their lack of financial power and therefore do not think there is a need to change the economy. Actually sports (spectators) are organized and sponsored by those with money and economic power with the main factor of affirming the capitalist values of competition , production and consumption. To conflict theorists sports is an opiate in society.

Conflict theory and research on sports

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Discussions and research on how sports has helped promote the power and privilege of elite groups in society. Also how sports serve as tools of economic exploitation and oppression. These are a few points How do people with economic power use sports to further their own interests ? How does commercialization change sports and influence social relationships in society? How do sports contribute to the existence of socioeconomic inequality in society ?

Usage of conflict theory in everyday life

The theory enables people to focus in economic factors, the inequalities in classes and the need for changes in how society and sports are organized. Significant others are trying to point out to athletes and spectators that they are being manipulated and oppressed for the profit and personal gain of the economic elite in society. The conclusion of the conflict theory is that the problems in sports exist because power does not rest in the hands of people who play sports but the people who organize it to reflect their own good than the public good.

Weaknesses of conflict theory


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There are 3 major weaknesses Assumption that all social life is driven and shaped by economic factors also by the needs of capital in society. Furthermore it assumes that the have-nots are in a state of powerlessness and alienation, also that the haves always us their power to exploit then have-nots. The theory ignores the importance of race, gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation and other factors. How these factors explain the way people organise their social life, interaction to other people and how they identify themselves. The theory also ignores the empowerment of sportspeople by sport participation and also spectators.

Evaluation of functionalist theory and conflict theory


Both theories focus on the needs of the society and how sports is related to the satisfaction of those needs. There is no genuine picture of sports in everyday life or how people create sports and the overall society in which they live their lives. It is pictures of sports from top down not from bottom up. There is also an ignorance of the complexities of everyday social life.

Interactionist theory

This theory is concerned with issues related to meaning, identity, social relationships and sub-cultures in sports. The basis for this theory is that human behaviour involves choices and that choices are based on the definitions of reality that people form as they interact together. According to this theory our reactions are not automatic but we make decisions about our behaviour based on the consequences of what will those decisions will do our environment.

Interactionist theory

The theory suggest that: We develop a sense of whom we are and how we are connected to the human world from our ability to reflect on our decisions and actions Do we agree to this ? Discuss The sense of whom we are is our IDENTITY

Identity

Identity
This is the basis for self-direction and selfcontrol in our lives. Identity however is not permanent as it emerges from our relationships and our relationships are constantly changing. Discuss

INTERACTIONIST THEORY AND RESEARCH

ON SPORTS
As you would have noticed the theory invokes vigorous debate but we need to focus on the significance to sports as sports scholars the following points are the issues that people who use Interactionist theory look into 1. What are the social processes through which people become involved in sports ? 2. How do people come to define themselves and be defined by others as athletes ? 3. how do people give meaning to and derive meaning from their experience in sports ? 4. What happens when people retire from sport and make the transition into the rest of their lives ? 5. What are the characteristics of sport subculture, how are they created by the people involved in sports and how do they influence identity and behaviour on and off the field ? ( Sport in Society By J.Coakley p.38, 2001)

GLOBALISATION OF SPORT
What does it mean? Is it significant to us students? Is it significant to us a society?

GLOBALISATION OF SPORT

Globalisation is a knowledge effect with the definite impacts on intellectual, economic, social and governmental practice. (Globalisation and Sport; playing the World. T.Miller et.al. 2001. Globalisation entails the intensification of world-wide social relations which link distinct localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring miles and miles away and vice versa (A.Giddens, 1990: p.64 op.cit Global sport , J.Maguire :1999 p13

GLOBALISATION OF SPORT

The term globalisation has been very common over the past two decades and it has evoked very interesting debates amongst scholars, sociologists, students etc. the concept is also very confusing and used by sociologists as moral judgement of what is happening in our world today.Tony Mason a historian in 1994 complained that the globalisation of football has homogenised the sport so much that were was no difference between the Brazilians and European soccer. If we are to follow Tony Masons suit is the NBA and hiphop to blame for the majority of youngsters dressing like the superstars of these two institutions if we can call them that.

GLOBALISATION OF SPORT

What is it that compels these men to attack ? Why are


men so disturbed by this spectacle ? Why do they get involved so entirely ? Why this needless fighting ? What is sport ? ( Roland Barthes 1997, Of sport and Men, Canadian journal of film studies Vol.2 pp 75-83 let us export our oarsmen , our fencers, our runners into other lands. That is the true trade of the future; and the day it is introduced into Europe the cause of peace will have received a new and strong ally Pierre de Coubertin, paper presented at the Union des Sports Athletiques, Sorbonne, 25th November 1892.

GLOBALISATION OF SPORT

In the previous slide there were two quotes that hopefully the next two weeks including the seminar will try and answer. In previous OLYMPIC GAMES, WORLD CUPS, WORLD BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS, TOUR DE FRANCE all these global events evoke one major thing National identity- pride, power,prestige but we must be careful as someone has suggested that sports is merely a war with out bullets. Name of few companies that you feel are globalising the world

Just do it (NIKE ,NBA & JORDAN)

In 1999 the NBA and Coca-Cola announced their next 4 year chapter that was part of their 100 year global marketing partnership.In their own words the arrangement includes increased global advertising and extensive promotional and grassroots activities for _ _ _ _ _ _, as well as several new initiatives to encourage international growth and brand awareness. (NBA 1999). However at one stage in the NBA in 1971 to be precise African Americans were not deemed to be able to sell products or endorse them. Nike air trainers cost about $50 to make but sold in shops three times that amount. To globalise a market you must have an image and there was no better image than Jordan. With the NBA having a new commissioner David Stern comparing the NBA to Disney.

Just do it (NIKE ,NBA& JORDAN)


Satellite TV is everywhere from Timbuktu to the Samoa islands and back to the states. With stars such as Jordan , Barkley,Magic, Bird everybody across the world was watching the NBA. Advertising is so much that in 1990 $120 was spent annually on advertising for each person on earth (The globalisation of Michael Jordan p69, 2002. W.LaFeber). ESPN,SKYSPORTS,NASN, FOX SPORTS NETWORK all carry the NBA games lives to all over the world including the adverts of Jordan wearing Nike trainers, just think of the ramifications of the image of Jordan soaring through the air ?????????????????? However Jordan and Nike did not set the world alight until he won the championships with Bulls.

GLOBALISATION AND AMERICANISATION

Sport is commonly characterised as the global culture industry par excellence and bar the Moscow games in 1980 that the Americans boycotted, the Americans have topped the medals table as far as post war games are concerned. Again the most Americanised sports game is Basketball. In England the national basketball league BBL, the starting fives are usually American. In 1993 the most popular athlete in Australia was M.J his airness. This is fascinating because apart from the 1992 Olympic games Jordan had not appeared on Australian TV apart from commercials. (Waddingham and Stead, 1993) The NBA has 11 offices outside north America and draws 15% merchandising revenue internationally. Footlocker now has 234 European stores compared to 1 in 1987. Baseball is very popular in Cuba and Latin America , China and Japan.