Sociology of Sport and Social Theory

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Sociology of Sport and Social Theory presents current research perspectives from major sport scholars and leading sociologists regarding issues germane to the sociology of sport. Each chapter of this resource explains historical and contemporary social theories and applies these theories to current topics in sport, such as performance-enhancing drugs, gender, race and identity issues, and the role of religion in sport.

Sociology of Sport and Social Theory introduces readers to the historical and theoretical underpinnings of social theory, how sport studies have incorporated or diverged from these theories, and how the application of various sociological lenses to sport contexts may converge for future research. Merging the fields of sport studies and sociology, the text provides readers with

• a fresh view on how prominent social issues may be applied to exciting issues in sport;

• an opportunity to analyze engaging topics in sport, including Tiger Woods’ dominance, the costs of building stadiums, and NCAA institutional logic; and

• an accessible presentation of seemingly complex theories from scholars with backgrounds in sociology and sport studies.

Structured in four parts, this text expands discussion beyond theoretical paradigms typically employed by sport sociologists to consider traditional theories (conflict theory and structural functionalism) and contemporary sociological theories (feminist theory, social capital theory, and relational theory) and their application in sport contexts. Each chapter begins with a theory overview and concludes with suggestions for future research and an annotated list of additional resources.

In part I of the text, readers will encounter a Weberian analysis of sport, learn how Mills’ theory of the sociological imagination provides a lens through which an athlete-author can analyze athletic events, and read a discussion of Elias’ figurational theory as applied to issues of hooliganism in soccer. Mid-level sociological theories, which provide a moderate convergence of theory and empirical research, are the focus in part II of the text. Chapters in part III address sport-related issues of gender, race, ethnicity, and social class using the contemporary sociological views of feminist theory, social reproduction theory, hegemonic masculinity theory, and structuration theory. Part IV considers issues of power, personality, citizenship, and dominance in sport.

Sociology of Sport and Social Theory addresses a range of topics at the forefront of both scholarly and public discourse and provides readers the opportunity to consider these issues in light of traditional and contemporary sociological theories. With its broad range of perspectives and analyses, Sociology of Sport and Social Theory illustrates for students, sport scholars, and social scientists how sociological theory can provide a suitable framework for understanding patterns that exist in the world of sport.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780736075725
  • Publisher: Human Kinetics Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/11/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 239
  • Product dimensions: 7.20 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Earl Smith, PhD, is director of American ethnic studies and professor of sociology at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He has over 20 years of experience as an instructor and researcher of topics in sociology of sport, and he has gained recognition as a Rubin Distinguished Professor. He focuses on the intersection of sociological, psychological, and economic theories and empirical research in sport.

In 2008, Smith was awarded the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport (NASSS) Book Award. He has also served as president of NASSS. In 2008-2009, the department of anthropology and sociology at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York, presented Smith with the Arnold A. Sio Distinguished Professor of Community and Diversity Award.

A former competitive runner, Smith now walks to stay fit and enjoys bird watching and spending time outdoors. He resides in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

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Table of Contents

Part I. Great Theorists

Chapter 1. Toward a Sport Ethic: Science, Politics, and Weber's Sociology

Robert Beamish, PhD

Four Pure Types of Action

Science and Ethics: The Limits of Goal-Rational Action

The Politics of Ethical Conduct in Sport


Suggested Research

Additional Sources

Chapter 2. Civilizing Sports: Figurational Sociology and the Sociology of Sport

Eric Dunning, PhD

The Figurational Sociology of Sport and Its Critics

Criticizing and Testing Elias

The “Civilizing” of Modern Sports

Soccer Hooliganism as an English and World Problem


Suggested Research

Additional Resources

Chapter 3. Beyond the Sociological Imagination: Doing Autoethnography to Explore Intersections of Biography and History

Nancy Spencer, PhD

Sociological Imagination

Applying the Sociological Imagination to Research

Applying Critical Sociological Imagination to My Studies


Suggested Research

Additional Resources

Part II. Research Guided by Mid-Level Sociological Theories

Chapter 4. The Sociology of Science: Sport, Training, and the Use of Performance-Enhancing Substances

Ian Ritchie, PhD

Theories in the Sociology of Science

Sport and the Science of Training: The Conservation of Energy and Beyond

Understanding the Use of Performance-Enhancing Substances


Suggested Research

Additional Resources

Chapter 5. Political Economy: Sport and Urban Development

Kimberly S. Schimmel, PhD

Urban Political Economy and Urban Regime Theory

Sport Development and Urban Development in Historical Perspective

Sport, Urban Regime, and Urban Development in Indianapolis


Suggested Research

Additional Resources

Chapter 6. Institutional Logics Theory: Examining Big-Time College Sport

Richard M. Southall, EdD, and Mark S. Nagel, EdD

Theory of Institutional Logics

Case Study: 2007 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Tournament Broadcasts


Suggested Research

Additional Resources

Chapter 7. Playing for Whom? Sport, Religion, and the Double-Movement of Secularization in America

David Yamane, PhD, Charles E. Mellies, BA, and Teresa Blake, BA

The Double Movement of Secularization

Societal-Level Secularization: The Differentiation of Sport from Religion

Sport as Civil Religion?

Organizational Innovation Connecting Religion and Sport

Religion and Spirituality at the Individual Level


Suggested Research

Additional Resources

Part III. Theories of Inequality

Chapter 8. Feminist Theory and the Study of Sport: An Illustration from Title IX

Angela J. Hattery, PhD

The First Wave

Modern Feminist Theory:The Second Wave

Postmodern Feminism: The Third Wave

Title IX and Gender Equity in Intercollegiate Sport



Suggested Research

Additional Resources

Chapter 9. Social and Cultural Capital: Race, School Attachment, and the Role of High School Sports

Rhonda F. Levine, PhD

Theoretical Frameworks

Sport Participation, Academic Achievement and School Attachment

Role of Coaches


Suggested Research Additional Resources

Chapter 10. Race, Class, and Gender Theory: Violence Against Women in the Institution of Sport

Earl Smith, PhD, and Benny Cooper, BA

The Issue

Methods and Data



Suggested Research

Additional Resources

Chapter 11. Masculinities and the Sociology of Sport: Issues and Ironies in the 21st Century

Bryan E. Denham, PhD

Hegemonic Masculinity

Constructions of Masculinity in Professional Football

Constructions of Masculinity in Hardcore Bodybuilding


Suggested Research

Additional Resources

Chapter 12. Getting Girls in the Game: Negotiations of Structure and Agency in a Girls’ Recreational Sport Program

Cheryl Cooky, PhD

Overview of Theories of Structuration


Girls in the Game

Cultural Analysis: Discursive Constructions of Sport and the "At-Risk" Girls

Helping Girls “At-Risk”: The Structure of “Girls in the Game”

“Doing Whatever We Want”: Reproductive Agency at GIG

Negotiating Agency and Constraint in Everyday Social Interactions: The Role of Culture in School-Sanctioned Verus Hip-Hop Femininities


Suggested Research

Additional Resources

Part IV. Microlevel Theories

Chapter 13. The Mundanity of Excellence: Tiger Woods and Excellence in Golf

Earl Smith, PhD

Tiger the Golfer

Theory of Dominance in Sport



Suggested Research

Additional Resources

Chapter 14. Making it Big: Visible Symbols of Success, Physical Appearance, and Sport Figures

Bonnie Berry, PhD

The Null Hypothesis and Methodology

Observations of Sport, Fitness, and “Health” Magazine Images

Interpretations: Some Features on Which to Focus

Symbolic Interaction, Dramaturgy, and Image-Making


Suggested Research

Additional Resources

Chapter 15. Sport and Multiple Identities in Postwar Trinidad: The Case of McDonald Bailey

Roy D. McCree, PhD

Theoretical Considerations


Athletic Representation and Multiple Identities: Trinidadian or British


Suggested Research

Additional Resources




About the Editor

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