Trust and Distrust in Community Sports Work: Tales From the “Shop Floor”

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This study addressed the issue of interpersonal trust and distrust in the (sporting) workplace. Data were generated through cyclical, in-depth interviews with 12 community sports coaches. The interview transcripts were subjected to emic and etic readings, with Hardin and Cook’s theorization of (dis)trust and Goffman’s dramaturgical writings providing the primary heuristic devices. Our analysis produced three interconnected themes. These were a) how the participants’ decision to (dis)trust contextual others was based on their perceptions of encapsulated interests, b) those strategies that the participants employed to judge the trustworthiness of colleagues, and c) how the participants’ workplace bonds with coworkers differed according to their perceived trustworthiness. Importantly, this study revealed how interpersonal (dis)trust for these individuals was informed by the pursuit of various professional interests, uncertainty regarding continued employment and career progression, and was subject to ongoing strategic interaction and reflection. Based on these findings, we believe there is much to gain from the micro-level exploration of “how” and “why” sports workers seek to negotiate and manage workplace relationships.

Gale and Ives are members of Cluster for Research into Coaching (CRiC) within the Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, United Kingdom. Potrac is with the Department of Sport, Exercise, and Rehabilitation, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom; and the School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sport Science, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland. Nelson is with the Department of Sport and Physical Activity, Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, Lancashire, United Kingdom.

Address author correspondence to Laura A. Gale at l.gale@mmu.ac.uk.
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