Norbert Elias and the Sociology of Sport

Authored by: Dominic Malcolm

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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Was Elias ‘one of the pioneers of the sociology of sport’ (Dunning 2002: 213)? He certainly attended some of the initial meetings in the mid-1960s. He also wrote some early papers which helped scope the area, provide important empirical substance and add theoretical rigour. Indeed, reflecting on his collaboration with Dunning, he even stated that ‘we helped a little’ to make sport a respectable subject for academic study (Elias 1986a: 19). But as I have argued elsewhere (Malcolm 2012), even in comparison to Bourdieu, who saw himself as ‘virtually alone among major sociologists … to have written seriously on sports’ (Bourdieu and Wacquant 1992: 93), Elias was unique among major social theorists in that he developed both a sociology of sport, and his sociological theory through sport.

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