‘Sports Participation Is Directly Affected by Social Exclusion’. Drawing on the Literature from the Sociology of Sport Discuss the Statement in Relation to Two of the Following; Gender, Disability, Sexuality, Race and Class.

Topics: Sociology, Social class, Working class Pages: 10 (3077 words) Published: February 17, 2012
‘Sports participation is directly affected by social exclusion’. Drawing on the literature from the sociology of sport discuss the statement in relation to TWO of the following; gender, disability, sexuality, race and class.


‘Social exclusion is a process and is described much more widely in terms of access, or lack of it to different basic social systems’ (Houlihan, 2008, p.78). The term social exclusion was first used by a French welfare minister in 1974 and soon became a high priority and a cross cutting theme of the New Labour government in 1997 (Houlihan, 2008). In 1998 a new social exclusion unit formed and described social exclusion occurring when people suffer from a series of problems such as unemployment, discrimination, poor skills, low incomes, poor housing, high crime, ill health and family breakdown (Hylton and Bramham, 2007). These sorts of problems consequently lead individuals or groups of people to become cut off from the mainstream society which will ultimately have a decisive impact on their overall quality of life (Macionis and Plummer, 2005). Social exclusion can happen in many different institutions, one of which is sport.

There are many dimensions in sport which exclusion can be expressed such as sexuality, gender, age, ethnicity, disability or location (Collins and Kay, 2003). In a study by Collins (2004) he identifies several of these factors and looks at how exclusion occurs. One important result which was drawn upon from the study was the drop in participation rate between the ages of 16 and 25. This jump down was found to be caused by the degree of sporting opportunities decreasing for individuals having left school. Research such as this help with the intervention of inclusion policies that sport strategies such as ‘game plan’ devise. Like Collins (2004) many sports sociologists have conducted research on agendas that lead to social exclusion in sport. This research has been crucial into our understanding of sports participation and how it is directly affected by social exclusion (Wagg, 2004). In addition to this sociologists often use past research to aid them in their own study. For example Millward (2009) constantly refers to O Neiles (2005) past research when looking at the discrimination that Rangers fans receive because of their ‘sectarian’ values. This reinforces his own results and gives him a foundation level for his own research. However it is important to recognise that not all research is beneficial and from time to time it becomes out of date as issues in society change (Kirby, Greaves and Reid, 2003).

Since the new social inclusion unit was formed in 1998 and inclusion policies such as ‘a sporting future for all’ and ‘game plan’ have been created, participation in sport has increased (Hayes and Stidder, 2003).However it is still imperative social exclusion still needs to be addressed. This essay will provide a brief discussion of how class and gender contribute to social exclusion in terms of sport participation, whilst drawing on literature from the sociology of sport, examining past and current issues.


Class is the division of society into layers or ranks and many sociologists would assert that stratification of some kind exists or has existed in most societies (Lawton, 1975). Over time debates have began to rage in sociology as to whether social class boundaries have dissolved and class differences are a thing of the past. (Collins and Kay, 2003). ‘Some commentators have argued that the concept of class is no longer a useful explanatory tool in sociology’ (Devine, 1997, p1). However recent research suggests that class differences in sport is still around and affecting participation. Wilson (2002) describes a sociology of sport paradox where the higher a person’s social class, the more likely they are to participate in sport, along with the higher ones social class the less likely they are to participate in ‘lower class sports’. Stempel’s...

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