Disability and Sport

The case of the Paralympic Games

Authored by: P. David Howe

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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This chapter will outline what I believe to be the key issues for a robust sociological understanding of disability in sport, with specific reference to the Paralympic Games. Those who are interested in sociological issues related to sport and disability are more than likely to have come across media images related to the Paralympic Games. For this reason, the relatively high-profile event that is the Paralympic Games will be the focus of this chapter. Therefore, it is important that the issues raised in regards to the Paralympic Games also have a social impact upon disability sport at the grassroots level. To begin this sociological discussion I will first focus on a brief outline of the structure of Paralympic sport organization before turning my attention to exploring the relevance of the socio-political field of disability studies to Paralympic research. This will be followed by the issue of integration of athletes with disabilities into ‘mainstream’ sports and the sociological interpretation of athlete classification. Paralympic bodies will be the final focus of the chapter because it is at the level of the individually impaired body where we are best placed to explore issues of agency of the athletic body in which issues related to degree of impairment, gender, and technology will be highlighted.

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