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The attention of scholars has been increasingly drawn to sport as a subject of study. In the 1960s pioneering work by the sociologists Norbert Elias and Eric Dunning demonstrated the importance of examining sport through the sociological lens. The Olympic games, with its potential for raising issues about elite sport and its meaning in both cultural and conceptual terms, has stimulated a great deal of research. The context of London 2012 will feed into a range of sociological discussions including those which focus on the social meaning of mega-events and their impact on both global and local social relations. We examine some of these issues here.


Crowd of marathon runners [10KB]

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

Sport, sex and gender

Shotputter [6KB]

Women did not compete in the first modern Olympics of 1896. They started to compete four years later but in only two sports: tennis and golf.

Making the (sporting) body

Runners [5KB]

Spyridon Louis, the winner of the marathon in the first modern Olympics was reportedly given a traditional alcohol-fuelled send-off by his fellow villagers and took wine and ate an Easter egg.

Economies, movements and populations

Climbers on scaffolding [10KB]

Staging the Olympics and Paralymic games has a number of significant social and economic impacts for the host nation. New jobs will be created.

'Race', ethnicity and sport

Stamp depicting athletes of different races [10KB]

Race and ethnicity are often used interchangeably in everyday language, although it is important to understand that the two words have different meanings.

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Social sciences at the British Library

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Latest publications on sociology

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