Sport and Socialism in Britain

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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  • 1 Goldsmiths’ College, University of London
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This paper attempts to explain the relationship between socialism and sport in Britain using a historical and comparative analysis of developments in Europe to identify the particular sociopolitical conditions and processes pertaining in the British case. It argues that a distinctively socialist sports culture failed to develop in Britain due to the interaction between two sets of forces: the powerful economic, political, and cultural constraints that are characteristic of Britain’s development, and the character of British socialism’s response to those constraints. It pinpoints the ways in which features specific to British socialism disabled socialists from adequately grasping the significance of sport in popular culture, from responding effectively to the way class, sex and gender, and national identities are formed in sporting activity, and from influencing processes of conflict and accommodation taking place around sport between dominant and subordinate groups.

John Hargreaves is with the Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths’ College, University of London, New Cross, London SE14 6NW England.

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