Questioning the Inference of Ethnic Differences in Achievement Values from Types of Sport Participation: A Commentary on White and Curtis

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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White and Curtis’ recent papers (Sociology of Sport Journal, 1990, 7, pp. 347-368; International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 1990, 25, pp. 125-141) claiming a difference between Canadian Anglophones and Francophones in achievement values are critiqued. Two particular concerns are at issue. The first bears on the relationship these authors make between competitive sport participation and competition/achievement values. On that score, attention is focused upon some epistemological and methodological inadequacies. It is further argued that a conservative ideological perspective is implied in the inferring of achievement values from competitive sport participation. The second point challenges the idealistic conception conveyed by the authors’ contention that “studies outside the domain of work, on people’s ‘voluntary’ orientations to leisure activities, may more clearly show language group differences in achievement values.” Instead, it is proposed that sport practices are determined by the given social structure in which social agents live and by its specific social history. It is contended that an hermeneutical approach would be a more adequate alternative to the cross-cultural study of values differences.

The authors are with the Département d’éducation physique, Université de Montréal, C.P. 6128, Succursale A, Montréal, Québec, Canada H3C 3J7.

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