“Our Voices, Our Meaning”: The Social Representations of Sports for Brazilian Athletes With Disabilities

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This study aimed to identify the social representations of sports for Brazilian athletes with disabilities and to understand the extent to which sports can contribute to their empowerment. A total of 153 Brazilian athletes of various sports and with different types of disabilities took part in the study (122 men and 31 women; M = 31.91 years, SD = 9.46). The research was performed by an online survey by means of the free word association technique. All analyses were carried out using the Iramuteq computer program. The results indicated that the social representations of sports are related to individual and collective gains derived from practicing sports and that the representations are distinct according to the discipline practiced by the athlete. These results are discussed in light of the advantages of valuing the collective experience of athletes with disabilities as a group rather than as cases of individual overcoming. Social implications and possible future directions for research are presented.

Lins, Alves, and Silva are with the Laboratory of Social Psychology of the Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal. Melo is with the University of Fortaleza, Fortaleza-CE, Brazil.

Lins (samuellins@fpce.up.pt) is corresponding author.
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