Philosophy, Sociology, and the Critical Analysis of Sport

Authored by: William J. Morgan

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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Theorists in sport sociology and sport philosophy have had little to no interaction with one another thus far, despite the fact they often pursue topics in sport of common interest and concern. This lack of communication is particularly evident in the ‘social criticism’ of sport, where ethical, social, and political issues in sport are examined. In this chapter, I argue that a serious rapprochement of sport sociology and sport philosophy is critically important. I begin by briefly considering the call for social critics of sport – whether they are in sociology, philosophy, or other disciplines – to work collaboratively in order to subject the ever-growing and ever-menacing capitalized sport industry to the full critical scrutiny warranted. The second, longer part of my chapter builds a case for why critical sociologists and philosophers of sport have much to learn from advances and mistakes in their earlier critical investigations. Foucault’s distinctive approach to the critical study of social practices like sport figures in two important ways in this latter regard. The first is as a useful corrective to a main tendency among sport philosophers to ground their criticisms of sport in ahistorical, transcendental norms that supposedly are binding on all rational agents. The second is as an object lesson in why a main tendency among critical social theorists of sport to discount rational argument even of the local and historically contextual kind is a mistake.

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