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Overview: sociology of sport

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Sociology examines how human societies are structured and how these structures affect the way in which humans organise and experience life.

Mega-events such as the Olympic and Paralympic Games are interesting to question from a sociological perspective for many reasons. Sporting events are cultural events and as such can symbolise, reflect and indeed celebrate the dominant beliefs and values of a given society.

Sociologists might be interested in asking questions such as:

  • Why are certain ethnic groups over-represented in some events and under-represented in others?
  • Which groups of people are most likely to buy tickets to the Olympic and Paralympic Games?
  • What might the impact of the Games be to people living locally to the site?
  • Do the Games become sites for disagreements between nations to be 'played-out' through sport?

This page aims to facilitate researchers in their work on the Olympic and Paralympic Games and also to provide a means of publishing and archiving work which question the Games from a sociological perspective.

It is hoped that the site will enable contact between researchers from different backgrounds and institutions to discuss and test ideas about sport and the Games. We welcome and invite ideas and contributions from researchers at all stages of their careers - from schoolchildren to established academics!

The British Library holds material which can facilitate sociological research into sport and the Games for a range of different researchers.

For example, the newspaper collections provide a historical view of the media portrayal of the Olympics and Paralympics and the protests, disagreements and controversies that have surrounded it.

In addition, the history of the participation of women, ethnic minority and disabled athletes can be explored in our enormous collection of books and journals. Our map and philatelic collections provide insight into the social 'stories' we produce about the Games and how we try to legitimate these stories through their representation.

Getting started with the British Library's collections

Bandy, Susan, J., Hofmann, Annette, R. & Kruger, Arnd. (eds.) Gender, body and sport in historical and transnational perspectives
Kovac, 2008
London reference collection shelfmark: YD.2008.a.6908

Craig, Peter. Sport Sociology
Learning Matters, 2008
London open access collections shelfmark: SPIS306.483 DS shelfmark: m08/.33684

Giulianotti, Richard. Sport: A Critical Sociology
Polity Press, 2005
London open access collections shelfmark: SPIS306.483 DS shelfmark: m05/.13796

Hallinan, Chris. & Jackson, Steven. (eds.) Social and cultural diversity in a sporting world
Emerald, 2008
London open access collections shelfmark: (B) 306.483 v.5

Howe. David. The cultural politics of the paralympic movement: through an anthropological lens
Routledge, 2008
London reference collections shelfmark: YC.2008.a.5410 DS shelfmark: m08/.14725

Jones, Robyn, N. & Armour, Kathleen, M. (eds.) Sociology of sport: theory and practice
Longman, 2000
London reference collection shelfmark: YK.2002.a.11067 DS shelfmark: m02/33775

Maguire, Joseph. & Young, Kevin. (eds.) Theory, sport & society
JAI, 2002
London reference collection shelfmark: YC.2002.a.11784 DS shelfmark: m03/10545

Young, Kevin. & Wamsley, Kevin, B. (eds.) Global Olympics: historical and sociological studies of the modern games
Elsevier, 2005
London reference collection shelfmark: YC.2007.a.7267 DS shelfmark: 7770.738000 v.3

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Help for researchers: Sport Studies

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