Anthropological Perspectives and the Sociology of Sport

Authored by: Noel Dyck , Hans Hognestad

Routledge Handbook of the Sociology of Sport

Print publication date:  August  2015
Online publication date:  July  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415829731
eBook ISBN: 9780203404065
Adobe ISBN: 9781134116621


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Anthropological treatments of sport differ from their sociological counterparts by virtue of their underlying disciplinary orientation. This is especially evident in how practitioners of the two disciplines tend to define and demarcate their respective inquiries within this field. From a sociological perspective, the modernization and institutionalization of sport that exploded especially in Britain during the nineteenth century reflected the impacts of industrialization and urbanization upon existing games and athletic practices, as well as the integration of these reworked forms into new ways of life. The rapid spread of these ‘new’ sports to elsewhere in Europe, North America and beyond established their status both as popular leisure activities and exemplars of modernity. Yet it was precisely this latter dimension that rendered sport a problematic subject for investigation within anthropology, a discipline initially positioned as the science of the non-modern and ‘primitive’ (Archetti 1998). Nevertheless, anthropologists conducting fieldwork in aboriginal communities and non-Western societies continued to stumble across athletic competitions and pastimes that, for want of a better term, appeared to be ‘sport-like’ in one or another respect.

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