Socialization, Subculture, and Wheelchair Sport: The Influence of Peers in Wheelchair Racing

in Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly

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Trevor WilliamsLoughborough University

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Denise TaylorLoughborough University

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This study examines the influence of peers as sport socialization agents in the context of a wheelchair racing subculture in the United Kingdom. Using participant observation and survey methods the study focuses on elite and nonelite peer relationships–those between nonelite racers, between elite racers, and between elite and nonelite racers–and the knowledge that is transmitted and exchanged as subcultural responses to wheelchair racing problems. Six main interactional socialization contexts are identified: buying a racing wheelchair, British Wheelchair Racing Association training sessions, local training sessions, domestic races, foreign races, and Great Britain national squad training. Within these contexts elite racers socialize their nonelite peers by passing on subcultural solutions to two sets of problems: those that concern the racing chair and those that concern training. The relationship between the individual and the collective is complex, but peers play a major role in the development and transmission of the wheelchair racing subculture.

Trevor Williams is with the Department of Physical Education, Sports Science and Recreation, and Denise Taylor is with the Department of Human Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough LE11 3TU, UK.

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