The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Critical Sport Management Research

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Wendy Frisby University of British Columbia

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Critical social science is an underused paradigm in sport management. It can, however, help reveal the bad and ugly sides of sport, so we can uncover new ways to promote the good sides of it. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate the relevance of this paradigm for sport management teaching, practice, and research. A key assumption of the critical paradigm is that organizations are best viewed as operating in a wider cultural, economic, and political context characterized by asymmetrical power relations that are historically entrenched. Research is not neutral because the goal is to promote social change by challenging dominant ways of thinking and acting that benefit those in power. Conducting critical sport management research requires a specific skill set and adequate training is essential. Drawing on the work of Alvesson and Deetz (2000), the three tasks required to conduct critical social science are insight, critique, and transformative redefinition. These tasks are described and a number of sport-related examples are provided.

The author is the Chair of Women’s Studies and a faculty member in the School of Human Kinetics at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

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