SDP and social theory

Authored by: Laura Zanotti , Max Stephenson

Routledge Handbook of Sport for Development and Peace

Print publication date:  September  2018
Online publication date:  October  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138210486
eBook ISBN: 9781315455174
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter highlights how social theory may be relevant for sport in development and peacebuilding (SPD) and explores how it has informed several analytical perspectives now employed in the field. We offer three related propositions concerning that work. First, we contend this field, SPD, has been under theorized to date. Second, we caution that efforts to develop a more robust theorization of the roles of sport in development and peacebuilding must be thoroughly contextualized if they are to prove meaningful for researchers and practitioners alike. Finally, we argue that approaches that put sport initiatives in political, economic and cultural context, including Foucauldian, field (Bourdieu) and network analyses, may prove auspicious starting places for theory building for this complex area of inquiry. Overall, we contend that sport can indeed serve useful roles in development and peacebuilding, but that such initiatives must be designed, first and foremost, on consideration of the conditions that obtain on the ground. These, finally, underpin any success sport may enjoy as an instrument for development or peace.

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