Although qualitative research approaches such as ethnography have been applied to the field of sport (e.g., Bricknell, 2001; Hughson and Hallinan, 2001) Sparkes (2003) has suggested that it was not until the late 1990s that sport researchers began to embrace ethnographic frameworks underpinned by critical and postmodern theories. As such, the value of these research designs has not been fully realized. The benefit for sport management researchers in applying critical and postmodern thought to ethnographic approaches is that it sharpens their critical consciousness. This article therefore develops an argument for applying critical and postmodern thought to ethnographic approaches to sport management research. In doing this we (a) provide a brief historical sketch of social science research paradigms; (b) outline the benefits of applying critical and postmodern thought to sport management ethnographic research; (c) present examples of current sport and sport management ethnographic research that applies critical and postmodern frameworks; and (d) provide insight into the concerns that sport management scholars should consider when applying ethnographic research designs that embrace the tenets of postmodernism. Through this discussion we conclude that, although ethnographic approaches inspired by critical and postmodern thought are not the panacea to solve all research problems, if applied correctly they can only further enhance out knowledge of the research issue under investigation.
The authors are with Griffith University, Gold Coast Campus, Private Mail Bag 50, Gold Coast Mail Centre, 9726, Queensland, Australia.