Who’s In and Who Is Out? Legitimate Bodies Within the Paralympic Games

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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  • 1 Loughborough University
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This paper explores issues surrounding the inclusion of impaired bodies within the Paralympic Games. To achieve this aim we use empirical data gathered from semistructured interviews held with a range of Paralympic stakeholders. The background upon which this data are analyzed is a critical analysis of the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC’s) current vision and mission. Pierre Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus and capital (Bourdieu, 1997, 1984) provide the theoretical foundation upon which the analysis takes place. Discussion centers on Paralympic stakeholders’ articulations of issues surrounding individuals with cerebral palsy and/or severe physical impairments, emanating, in part, from a desire for aesthetically pleasing sporting performances. This paper gives Paralympic stakeholders a voice, upon which the IPC and broader sporting community may choose to reflect.

The authors are with the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport, School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire, UK.

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