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Tarja Kolkka and Trevor Williams

The aim of this paper is to introduce a sociological research agenda on gender in the context of disability sport participation. This is done in three parts. In the first part, there is an examination of the differences between the biological and social conceptions of “sex/gender” and “impairment/disability.” In the second part, we offer a critique of the research on gender and disability sport. The point is made that there has been very little consideration of how gender structures the experiences of disability sport participation. There is a need for a more sophisticated theoretical foundation, different theoretical perspectives, and different approaches, and for alternative research designs to increase our knowledge about gender, disability, and sport participation. These are offered, in the third part, in a suggested sociological research agenda focusing on socialization and gender roles, social differentiation and stratification, and life chances.

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Trevor Williams and Tarja Kolkka

The aim of this paper is to demonstrate the use of the structural functionalist sociological perspective in a disability sport inquiry. A study of socialization into wheelchair basketball is used to show how the ontological and epistemological assumptions of structural functionalism underlie decisions about the research problem and subproblems, data collection method, explanation of the results, and conclusion. Wheelchair basketball is conceptualized as a social system, and socialization as a process that ensures pattern maintenance within the system. A critique is offered of how the perspective has been interpreted in the disability sport literature, its capacity to incorporate variance, and theoretical and heuristic utility for examining disability sports.