Sport and the Role of Sport Sociology for Alter-Globalization

Monday, 11 July 2016: 18:30
Location: Hörsaal 18 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Wolfram MANZENREITER, University of Vienna, Dept. of East Asian Studies, Austria
John HORNE, University of Central Lancashire, School of Sport and Wellbeing
Sport has been criticized as a conservative institution subscribing airily to the aspirations of capitalism and neoliberal ideology. The study of sport has therefore been seen as politically compliant, undertheorized or even ignorant of its political significance, thereby ultimately serving the dominant political order. However, in the past decades global sport – particularly in its highly commercialized and corporatized forms – has become one key field for advocacy networks that resist both neoliberal forms of globalization and modernist backlashes against an open and equal society. Sport sociologists have not only turned to examine global social movements which reflect rising awareness of the devastating effects of global capitalism in neocolonial relationships with regions from the Global South, but also have considered the exploitation of Third World labor in the sporting goods manufacturing, the extraction of sport talent, human trafficking and athlete migration for consumption in the Global North, and the environmental damage caused by the sport industries. In many cases, sociologists have become activists that apply investigative and participatory research methods while standing up against social problems. Driven by a sense of social responsibility, ethical engagement and the vision of a better future, they have come to tackle racist and xenophobic attitudes within sport, and demonstrate the unequal distribution of gains and losses in the muscle drain. The take on sport as a facilitator for the international peace movement, and the adaptation of sport by NGOs in the field of developmental aid and international cooperation would not have happened without the intervention of a critical sociology of sport and globalization. Our presentation outlines and contextualizes the ‘critical turn’ in sport sociology and poses questions about its vision of future possibilities.