“Together We Stand, Divided We Fall”; Social Criticism and the Sociology of Sport and Leisure

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Rosemary Deem The Open University

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The article explores four modes of critical social theory in the sociology of sport and leisure, and attempts to identify common ground between these, especially in relation to their treatment of gender issues. Perspectives differ not only in their concepts and explanations but also in their underlying domain assumptions. First, the Weberian/Figurational perspective taken by Rojek is considered; this approach is the least concerned with gender, although breaking new ground in other ways. Second, the article looks at the work of the neo-Marxist, Hargreaves, which does include gender and race as issues, although secondary to class. Third is the work of Clarke and Critcher, with an important emphasis on the politics of culture and consumption, but again gender is seen as secondary to class. Finally, recent feminist perspectives are analyzed; here gender is primary, but other issues like class have not always been fully incorporated. Synthesis between different critical approaches to sport and leisure is seen as desirable because of the huge task of transforming these social phenomena. The paper suggests, however, that since the domain assumptions of all four are so different, their best way forward may lie in a new radical pluralist approach that does not a priori see any one social division as paramount.

Direct all correspondence to Rosemary Deem, School of Education, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, England.
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