Following criticism leveled at sociologists by Chris Rojek and Bryan Turner in “Decorative Sociology: A Critique of the Cultural Turn,” this article identifies a troubling absence of systematic contextualization in sport sociology. In addressing this issue, I begin by describing the role of history and context in sociology and conclude that the discipline should take history more seriously, not least by giving context greater due. I then engage the debate as to whether radical contextual cultural studies or social history offers the best explanation of context. Here I argue for the latter. In justifying my position, I adapt a model employed by the conservative social historian Arthur Marwick in “The sixties: Cultural Revolution in Britain, France, Italy, and the United States, c. 1958–c. 1974,” to contextualize a contemporary cultural phenomenon, the female boarder (i.e., the female surfboard rider, skateboarder, and snowboarder). Ultimately, this paper illustrates that the systematic and transhistorical tools developed by social historians have the potential to facilitate a more all-encompassing contextualization of cultural phenomena, to examine multiple historical conjunctures, and to help sociologists take time and change more seriously.
The author is with the Department of Sport and Leisure Studies at the University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand.