Sports in Society

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Issues and Controversies
Chapter 2 Producing Knowledge about Sports in Society: What Is the Role of Research and Theory?
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Those who study sports in society want to understand four things:
1. The cultural and social contexts in which sports exist 2. The connections between those contexts and sports 3. The social worlds that people create as they participate in sports 4. The experiences of individuals and groups associated with those social worlds

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Tools used to study sports in society
Social research: investigations in which we seek answers to questions about social worlds by systematically gathering and analyzing data Social theories: logically interrelated explanations of the actions and relationships of human beings and the organization and dynamics of social worlds

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All people use ³theories´
We gather information about people and things around us. We use this information to develop personal explanations about our experiences, people, events, and social worlds²i.e., personal theories.

Personal theories = summaries of our ideas and explanations of social life and the contexts in which it occurs

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Sociological theories are different than personal theories
They are  

 

Designed to answer questions that go beyond experiences and situations encountered by one person Based on systematic data collection and analysis Developed in connection with the research and theories of others in sociology Published and critically examined, tested, and validated or discredited by other scholars

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Social Theories
Theories are based on questions about why the world is the way it is and on ideas about how it might be different Theories involve a combination of 
 

Description Reflection Analysis

Theories have practical applications because they help us make choices and anticipate consequences

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The process of producing knowledge in the sociology of sport

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Types of observational methods
Outside observer = record what is seen and heard Participant observer = record the actions, feelings, and comments of self and others in a social world Fieldwork = ³on-site´ data collection, usually focused on a particular social world Ethnography = fieldwork that involves observations and interviews

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essner used quantitative data when he analyzed network sports news and ESPN highlights.

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essner¶s research is based on a critical approach and asked these questions: (I)
1. What values, ideas, and beliefs are associated with or promoted through sports, and who is advantaged or disadvantaged by them? 2. What are the meanings currently given to sports and sport participation, and who is advantaged or disadvantaged by those meanings? 3. How are sports, athletes, and other people associated with sports represented in media coverage, and how does that coverage influence people¶s lives?
(continued)

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essner¶s research is based on a critical approach and asked these questions: (II)
4. How are sports organized, and who is advantaged or disadvantaged by existing forms of organization in sports? 5. Who has power in sports, to what ends is power used, and how are various categories of people affected by power relations associated with sports? 6. Who accepts and who resists the prevailing social and cultural organization of mainstream sports, and what happens to those who resist? 7. What strategies will effectively foster progressive changes in sports and the social worlds around them?

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essner used a critical approach in his research
A critical approach is related to social action. Messner was interested in the following: 
Can sports be used to challenge and transform

exploitive and oppressive practices?  How can we increase the number and diversity of sport participation opportunities?  How do we challenge the ideological implications of the mainstream sports stories that disadvantage categories of people?  How do we challenge the voices and perspectives of those with power in sports and society²and give voice to the least powerful?
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