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Defense or attack? Can soccer clubs help tackle social exclusion?

Defense or attack? Can soccer clubs help tackle social exclusion?

Holden, Philip and Wilde, Nicholas (2004) Defense or attack? Can soccer clubs help tackle social exclusion? In: ISTR Sixth International Conference, 11-14 Jul 2004, Toronto, Canada. (Unpublished)

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This paper examines soccer as a social and cultural phenomenon which is increasingly being adopted as an instrument for social change. The economic power of soccer in the UK, and in many other parts of the world, is apparent with the fame and wealth visited on players. But what is it about soccer that leads policy-makers to think that it can help change the life-courses of young people who may be excluded from education, work, health or suffer other forms of deprivation? Little literature has been found to explain how sport in general and soccer in particular is suited to countering issues of social inequality although the potential socialising effect of sport has been examined. Likewise evidence of effect from funding bodies seems to be limited although some examples of good practice exist.

In this paper the theoretical and empirical basis of the assertion of soccer’s ‘transformative ability’ is challenged and the actual and potential role of soccer in social inclusion is assessed. A reflexive approach inspired by Bourdieu is adopted. This examines the structural, social reality of the soccer clubs involved in social inclusion projects but also looks at the individuals’ involvement in constructing this reality. A ‘participant objectivation’ approach is suggested and the initial results reported. Tentative conclusions suggest the emic and etic perspectives of participants and programme workers need to be taken into account. We argue that, although social exclusion is referred to, it is in fact only a set of correlated effects of the distribution of economic, social and cultural capital. An understanding of social exclusion and the potential role of soccer is, itself a form of cultural capital that will have different values to the various actors.

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: football, soccer, social, cultural, capital, change, policy, Bourdieu
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business > Department of Marketing, Events & Tourism
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2016 09:24

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