Moving Beyond Models: Theorizing Physical Disability in the Sociology of Sport

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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  • 1 Canterbury Christ Church University
  • 2 University of Waikato
  • 3 University of Gloucestershire
  • 4 Leeds Beckett University
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In this paper we explore current theoretical approaches available from the discipline of critical disability studies (CDS) for conceptualizing physical disability and advocate how these understandings can advance sociological research on disability sport. After reviewing a dominant “models” approach that has historically been employed, we illuminate how theoretical architecture provided by selected sociological theorists (Pierre Bourdieu, Michel Foucault, and Zygmunt Bauman) and from aesthetic, cyborg, and new materialist approaches can help reveal the materialist conditions, sociocultural structures, and lived realities of disability. In doing so, we appeal to researchers of disability sport to develop critical understandings of why alternative theoretical approaches are valuable, what theoretical choices to make, and how we can use theory to highlight oppression and empower those involved in disability sport.

Brighton is with the Section of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, United Kingdom. Townsend is with the Te Huataki Waiora School of Health, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Campbell is with the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Gloucestershire, Gloucester, United Kingdom. Williams is with the Carnegie School of Sport, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, United Kingdom.

Brighton (james.brighton@canterbury.ac.uk) is corresponding author.
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