Social capacity and cohesion

Research addressing the community impact of sport, the role of sport volunteering and the impact of sports development programmes

This page contains research addressing these issues at various levels:

  • Large scale sports development programmes
  • Community impact of amateur and professional sports clubs.
  • The role of sport and volunteering in developing pro-social behaviours.
  • Sport's role in developing peer relationships.
  • The meaning of sport for minority ethnic groups.

What disabled children said about their experiences of a sports programme (Sweden, 2003)

Authors

Kristen, L; Patriksson, G and Fridlund, B

Date

2003

Keywords

Social integration; sport; physical disabilities; motivation; identity; children; adolescents.

Country of research

Sweden

Summary of findings

This three year study, based on semi-structured interviews with 20 children and adolescents (7 girls; 13 boys all aged between 9 and 15) with physical disabilities, explored their experience of participation in a sports programme.

The three year programme used sports (Year 1:orienteering; Year 2, golf; Year 3, archery) as a means of stimulating and facilitating participation of children in community sports clubs. The findings illustrate the great diversity of sports participation and the difficulty of dividing people into groups.

The study used Sherrill's holistic psycho-social taxomony to identify six categories of experience relating to sports participation: making new friends; learning (experience-based knowledge); strengthening physique; becoming someone (self-confidence; acceptance); experiencing nature and having a good time. Although the authors emphasise the lack of generalisability of the findings, they suggest that the results highlight the importance of holistic intervention programmes and illustrate that sport involves many positive factors for such children at the individual and societal levels. They conclude with some 'interventional' considerations:

Like those without functional impairments, those with physical disabilities view sport as having a diversity of advantages.

Both well-being and possibilities for integration are increased when access to physical activity is equal.

Strengthening one's physique and getting new friends both have an influence on integration in society and seem to play an important role in starting and continuing a physical activity.

There is a need for intervention programmes in which actors from different sections of society (health care, sports clubs and associations, disability organisations and universities) cooperate from a holistic point of view.

Programmes should be based on children's and adolescents' perspectives.

There is a need for more information about the conceptions of parents of functionally disabled children about their children's possibilities of participating in sports programmes.

Methodology

In-depth interviews

Source of reference

European Physical Education Review, 2003, 9 (1), 23-41

Web reference

http://www.sagepub.co.uk/journal.aspx?pid=105544

Links between sport and teenagers' leadership skills (US, 1999)

Authors

Dobosz, RP and Beaty, LA

Date

1999

Keywords

Personal development, sport; school; boys; girls; leadership.

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

This cross-sectional study examined the relationship between adolescents' participation in athletics and their leadership skills.  It provides a review of previous studies of the relationship between adolescent sports participation and leadership abilities which illustrated different leadership styles between males and females.

A random sample of  60 suburban high school students aged 15-18 was used - 30 athletes and 30 non-athletes (never participated in inter-scholastic athletics).  A standard testing instrument was used - a 50 item Leadership Ability Evaluation, designed to measure leadership ability, behaviour and style.  Each test item presents a leadership problem with four possible responses.  An additional  questionnaire was used to obtain data regarding athletic participation. 

The major finding, consistent with previous research, was that high school athletes outscored their non-athlete peers on the leadership ability measure.  Female athletes showed greater leadership ability than male athletes, although the difference was not statistically significant.

The authors conclude that there is a possibility that athletics offers young women and men the chance to improve leadership ability.  The authors recommend maintaining athletic programmes for the purposes of developing leadership and suggest that educational policy-makers and administrators should  re-examine any proposed budget cuts that may affect athletic participation.

Methodology

Questionnaire (Leadership Ability Evaluation)

Source of reference

Adolescence, Vol. 34, no. 133, Spring 1999, pp215-220

Social benefits for two suburbs from the 2006 Commonwealth Games (Australia, 2008)

Authors

Kellett, P; Hede, A-M and Laurence, C

Date

2008

Keywords

Social cohesion, major events, community.

Country of research

Australia

Summary of findings

This article reports on a qualitative study of the different strategies adopted by two Melbourne suburbs to leverage social benefits from association with the 2006 Commonwealth Games.  It provides a review of literature on the impacts of large scale events and notes an increased emphasis on the social impacts.

The authors suggest that an emerging body of work suggests that both economic and social event outcomes depend on properly formulated and implemented strategies and that this shifts the focus to the idea of 'event leverage'.

The authors explore the issues relating to event leverage via a comparative study of Port Phillip and Geelong and their approach to the Adopt-a-Second Team programme promoted by the government of Victoria's Office of Commonwealth Games Coordination.

Data were collected via participant observation, stakeholder interviews and content analysis of policy documents, marketing material and newspaper coverage.

They illustrate the different perspectives adopted by the two municipalities and how the adopted teams were viewed and the opportunity used.  One adopted a relatively superficial hosting approach (a civic reception and a day of celebration) while the other developed a multi-faceted approach involving a week-long set of activities, the involvement of schools in learning programmes, the active engagement of the members of the adopted team  and the involvement of local sports clubs  in hosting sporting and non-sporting events.

The authors argue that the latter approach – coordination for leverage - required the creation of networks, the development of skills, new and strengthened organisational coordination and learning that would not have occurred otherwise.

The authors relate their findings to broader policy perspectives and suggest that in these circumstances it is best to view policy as a range of ideas rather than a specific mandate and that associated policy instruments (e.g. inducements, mandates, capacity building and system changing) should concentrate on capacity building and systems development.

Methodology

Participant observation, interviews, content analysis.

Source of reference

European Sport Management Quarterly, 8(2), 101-121

Web reference

http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/16184742.asp

The value people place on a local professional sports team (US, 2001)

Authors

Johnson, BK; Groothuis, PA and Whitehead, JC.

Date

2001

Keywords

Sports teams; sports consumption; public goods; community; quality of life; social cohesion

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

This article explores, using data collected via a random sample of 822 households in Pittsburgh (achieving a 35.6% response rate), the value that citizens place on a professional sports team (the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League).

The questionnaire based on the contingent valuation method (CVM), collected data on respondents' attendance at team games, TV watching, reading and discussing of team matters, levels of interest in the team and how their quality of life would change if the Penguins left.

It also explored their evaluation of the team and willingness-to-pay – e.g. if keeping it in Pittsburgh was important and various tax-related options to ensuring that the team remained permanently.

The authors conclude that, with 72 per cent of respondents identifying themselves as Penguins fans the claim that sports provides a unifying element to civic life is plausible and just over half indicated that they would be willing to pay for hockey-related public goods rather than lose them.

However, the analysis suggests that the value of public goods generated by major sports teams may not be large enough to justify high public subsidies (although several caveats relating to local circumstances are offered).

Methodology

Contingent valuation method (CVM) survey data

Source of reference

Journal of Sports Economics, 2001, 2, (1), 6-21.

Web reference

http://www.sagepub.com/

Sport and self-image among young people with physical disabilities (US, 2001)

Authors

Groff, DG and Kleiber, DA

Date

2001

Keywords

Social capital; social integration; sport; physical disabilities; identity; adolescents

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

This research explored the belief that participation in sport may be linked to identity formation of adolescents with physical disabilities.

Qualitative interviews were conducted with 11 youth. Analysis of the data revealed four themes:

(a) skill and competence,

(b) emotional expression,

(c) social interaction and connectedness with others with a disability, and

(d) decreased awareness of disability.

Participation in adapted sports appeared to provide the majority of these youth with a heightened sense of competence and opportunities to express their "true" selves. In addition, sport participation by the youth with disabilities led to decreased awareness of their disabilities and facilitated exploration and expression of identity alternatives.

This exploratory study provided some evidence that involvement in an adapted sports programme was related to identity formation.

Methodology

In-depth interviews

Source of reference

Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 2001, 35, (4), 318-332.

Web reference

http://www.nrpa.org/story.cfm?story_id=584&departmentID=38&publicationID=21

Effects of sport on athletic and social abilities (France, 2007)

Authors

Ninot, G. and Maiano, C

Date

2007

Keywords

Personal development, learning disabilities, self-esteem, perceived competence, sport, adolescents.

Country of research

France

Summary of findings

This article reports on a French longitudinal study of 48 adolescent females aged 13-17 with intellectual disabilities (ID).  The study examined the different effects of participating in integrated and segregated athletic programmes and in different types of sport (basketball and swimming) on perceived athletic and social competence and general self-worth. 

The authors provide a brief review of research on perceived competence and individuals with ID, arguing that it is strongly influenced by institutional contexts.  They review research on the stability and instability of perceived competence suggesting that the perceived physical domain is unstable over time and that the accuracy of self-evaluation is strongly age-related. 

They also illustrate that individuals with ID in segregated schools may develop a misleading sense of their real competence.  They suggest that the literature is ambiguous about the long term effects of an integrated or segregated sports environment on perceived competence and general self-worth, there is an absence of studies comparing different sports and that there are few longitudinal studies. 

In this context their study explores two hypotheses:

(i) regular athletic meets over a period of 21 months would not transform social competence or general self-worth in adolescents with ID, whatever the mode of organisation or sport activity;

(ii) this transformation would be possible for the athletic domain of perceived competence.

The sample was divided into four groups based on basketball and swimming in segregated and non-segregated competitive environments, plus a PE swimming class in a specialised centre and a sedentary control group.  Five domains of competence were measured via a self-completion instrument the day after each meet – scholastic competence, social acceptance, athletic competence, physical appearance, appearance and general self-worth. 

The findings were as follows:

(i) the social acceptance domain was maintained irrespective of the mode of participation indicating its stability.  This is explained in part because the limited time spent in meets does not produce sufficient time for social mixing;

(ii) the integrated basketball group experienced a reduction in perceived general self-worth.  The authors' interpretation of this is that it reflects a more realistic evaluation of their perceived competence;

(iii) both integrated groups experienced a decrease in their athletic competence. 

The authors regard this as a positive outcome because it produces a more realistic awareness of their competence.  They conclude that sports provide a framework for the individual to assess his/her abilities via comparison with others and that when individuals with ID accept the risk of comparing themselves to non-intellectually disabled adolescents they develop a new and valuable way of viewing themselves.

Methodology

Self-completion survey

Source of reference

Research in Developmental Disabilities, 28, 176-186

Web reference

http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/826/description#description

The impact of sport on disciplinary incidents in schools(US, 2002)

Authors

Langbein, L and Bess, R

Date

2002

Keywords

Social capital; social cohesion; school sport; social behaviour; deliquency

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

This research used three years of 21 school records of serious incidents and suspensions to examine the impact of school sport on delinquency in schools, controlling for school size.

It used social capital theory's hypothesis that group cohesion will increase cooperative, pro-social behaviour among the in-group, but will increase the uncooperative, anti-social behaviour among those not in the group.  Social capital theory is also taken to predict that larger schools will have more disturbances, but sub-groups within large schools will reduce these.

An analysis of the relationship between disturbances and participation levels in interscholastic sports programmes concluded that, although larger schools have more disturbances, bigger interscholastic sports programmes mitigate these effects.The impact of sports participation increases disturbances in small schools, but, at some point of inflection, as schools grow larger, sports participation decreases disturbances. However, when the school participation rate is below a certain threshold the effect of greater school size is to increase the disturbance rate.

For most schools in the sample, widespread varsity and junior varsity athletic programmes reduce the rate (and number) of disturbances. Participation in the inter-scholastic sports likely to be the most glamorous and the most elite also mitigates disturbances as schools get larger. The findings of this study suggest that, in respect of fostering pro-social behaviour in high schools, the status quo of big schools with relatively small extracurricular programmes is less than optimal: either the schools should be smaller, or opportunities for numerous and diverse interactive smaller groups within the larger groups should be expanded.

However, the authors point to a number of limitations with the study. Firstly, it is not clear if sports participants or non-participants are most involved in disturbances. Secondly, the results suggest that the expectation that high-prestige sports are more likely than 'ordinary' sports to alienate non-participants is not correct. But the measurement of 'prestige' is not sufficent to confirm this.

Methodology

Secondary analysis

Source of reference

Social Science Quarterly, 2002, 83, (2), 436-454.

Web reference

http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=0038-4941&site=1

Barriers to playing sport for minority ethnic communities (Scotland, 2001)

Authors

Scott Porter Research and Marketing Ltd

Date

2001

Keywords

Social cohesion; sport; barriers; ethnic minorities

Country of research

Scotland

Summary of findings

This examines the issues and barriers to sports participation by minority ethnic communities. It reviews previous research and identifies a range of potential barriers to participation - modesty, Ramadan, parental attitudes, 'traditional' attitudes of teachers - although emphasis is placed on the variety of ethnic groups and the importance of gender in mediating such factors.

To establish a framework for analysis, three broad attitudinal types are identified - security seekers (ethnicity, culture and religion are central, with a tendency to view sport as having limited value), harmony seekers (while viewing ethnicity and culture as important, wish to achieve a degree of integration and look for 'safe' ways to participate) and independence seekers (view themselves as part of the main 'host' culture, with sport available to all).

These attitudinal types are related to a broad theory of change model  - precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and confirmation - to explore how various barriers can affect their likelihood of taking part in sport. The barriers explored are:

(i) Precontemplation

The nature of the 'accepted' face of sport in Scotland; cultural/religious beliefs and expectations; no perceived value in sport; lack of awareness of others 'like me' participating in sport; lack of awareness of facilities/activities available.

(ii) Contemplation

Fear of racial discrimination; attitudes and expectations of 'significant others'; perceived lack of ability; lack of confidence; lack of awareness of 'appropriate' sporting environments.

(iii) Preparation

Difficulty in accessing information; racial discrimination; lack of 'appropriate' facilities or activities; cost.

(iv) Action

Racial discrimination; lack of confidence; inappropriate facilities or activities; cost.

(v) Confirmation

Racial discrimination; cultural beliefs and expactations; discontinuation of facilities or activities; loss of support and encouragment; lack of role models; lack of infrastructure to support development in sport.

The general conclusions of this analysis are as follow:

(i) There are few community-specific barriers, with issues evident across the total sample.

(ii) Although cultural and religious beliefs can impact on individual attitudes to sport, there is no evidence that they overtly disallow participation.

(iii) There are few cases where the needs of ethnic minority groups differ from the majority population. Differences generally relate to the nature of facilities or dress requirements.

(iv) The core barrier is the experience or fear of racial discrimination. Racial discrimination is not just about physical or verbal abuse, but also includes institutional racism.

(vi) There is a need for available information in an accessible format.

(vii) The attitudes and level of knowledge of service providers and information providers are important.

(viii) The provision of approriate facilities and activities needs to be in a welcoming format.

(ix)There is a need to accept the needs of minority ethnic commumnities as legitimate and not 'special'.

The report develops these ideas by providing detailed policy recommendations related to each stage on the theory of change and each identified barrier. It also provides general summaries of 35 examples of good practice.

Methodology

Desk research and interview data

Source of reference

Scott Porter Research and Marketing Ltd, Sport and ethnic minority communities: aiming at social inclusion, Edinburgh: sportscotland; 2001, Research report no 78.

Web reference

http://www.sportscotland.org.uk/pdfdocuments/ethnicityrr.pdf

Social impact of a junior sport development programme (South Africa, 2001)

Authors

Burnett, C

Date

2001

Keywords

Social capital; sport; social integration; empowerment

Country of research

South Africa

Summary of findings

Using an approach derived from social impact research this article offers the rationale, methodology and results of an essentially experimental analysis of the social impact of the junior component of the Australia-South Africa Sport Development  Programme (Super Kidz and Playsport). A multi-dimensional impact assessment research approach was used, drawing on the expertise of sports science, human movement studies, sociology, social anthropology and psychology. The programme, delivered through the educational system, was monitored in seven schools (with 5 schools in a judgement sample) and was assessed in relation to individual and core sociological indicators at macro-, meso- and micro-levels.

(i) Macro-level analysis was concerned with socio-economic factors, demographic issues and the delivery and management of the programme.

(ii) Meso-level analysis related to community development and the impact on institututions and groups.

(iii) Micro-level analysis related to issues of human development of participants (physical, social, self-esteem, cognitive).

A Sports Development Impact Assessment tool was developed, outlining the various themes and data to be collected at each level and identifying the relevant research methods. Data were collected via a quota sample of presenters and/or teachers and adult representatives of households. A random sample of pre- and post- intervention  participants took part in focus groups, with sociometric tests of those 12 and over (measuring patterns of reciprocal acceptance or rejection between members of a group based on ability to excel at sport and physical activity).   

Due to small samples, the absence of pre-and post-intervention measurements and the adaptation of questions, no meaningful quantifiable triangulated conclusions could be drawn. Consequently, only the trends and broad categories of data are presented.

The author emphasises that the possible impact of sports development programmes on communities can only be understood against the backdrop of poverty, lack of resources (financial, facilities, educational) and associated behaviours (e.g. apathy, violence and interdependent functioning). In terms of the potential social spin-offs from the sports development programme family, households and schools believed that this would lead to increased physical fitness and health, the development of social skills, crime reduction and provide opportunities for upward social mobility.

In schools the programme reduced social distance between children and teachers and enabled female teachers to break down the male-dominated barriers of 'unquestioned authority' by exploring a new code of conduct relating to 'an ethic of care'. Among children in the inclusive, non-competitive, programme the link between sports achievement and popularity was weakened as they got to know each other and based their evaluations on a broader knowledge of each other.

At present the research tool and analyses of comparable indicators are being refined through a longitudinal, pre- and post-impact study. It is hoped that guidelines will be developed for implementaions by the Australian Sports Commission in the Commonwealth 2006 Sports development programme that is already under way.

Methodology

Interviews, focus groups, sociometric tests.Interviews, focus groups, sociometric tests.Interviews, focus groups, sociometric tests.Interviews, focus groups, sociometric tests.

Source of reference

International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 2001, 36, (1), 41-57.

Web reference

http://www.sagepub.co.uk/journal.aspx?pid=105601

The impact of a sport volunteer programme on young sport leaders (England, 2002)

Authors

Eley, D and Kirk, D

Date

2002

Keywords

Social cohesion; sport; citizenship; social behaviour; volunteering; adolescents

Country of research

England

Summary of findings

An analysis of a Millinneum Volunteers programme focused on sport and providing training and support for young sports leaders to undertake volunteer work in school and community.

This ongoing study describes the psycho-social characteristics of participants (males: 138; females:168; aged 16-19), the majority of whom were from the three highest social class categories.

Over a nine month period assessments were made of their motives and attitudes to volunteer work and their perceptions of leadership skills. Overall results indicated that leadership skills and volunteer motivations increased, while the importance of, and attraction to, volunteering changed over time.

The biggest initial motivation was to increase leadership skills, largely for career-relevant experience and the authors suggest that there is a need for the provision of additional qualifications for volunteer work. However, this main motivation shifted from a concern with leadership skills to the importance of the volunteer work being sports-based.

The importance of 'working in the community' also increased, indicating that their experiences were positive and reinforced their commitment. This was reflected in an increase in altruistic and social motives - the authors conclude that promoting volunteer work as a means for social satisfaction is likely to appeal to most young people.

The authors express caution, as it is difficult to be certain of the cause of increase in leadership skills as these young people were also going through a wide range of social experiences related to school, family and peer interactions and the impact of each may be impossible to single out.

Nevertheless, they state that it is reasonable to speculate that sport volunteering is a  means of encouraging pro-social behaviour and citizenship among young people.

Methodology

Survey data (Voluntary Functions Inventory and Leadership Skills Inventory)

Source of reference

Sport, Education and Society, 2002, 7, (2), 151-166.

Web reference

http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/carfax/13573322.html

Sport as a means of social inclusion for physically disabled children (US, 2000)

Authors

Taub, DE and Greer, KR

Date

2000

Keywords

Physical activity; physical disabilities; social integration; children; identity; peer relationships

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

Children with physical disabilities are frequently excluded by classmates and discouraged from participating in such typical childhood experiences as physical activity. Consequently such children have fewer opportunities to enhance physical and social skills.

This study examined the socialization potential of physical activity for children with physical disabilities. In-depth, tape-recorded interviews were conducted with 21 boys and girls with physical disabilities (age 10 to 17 years) regarding perceived outcomes of their physical activity and reactions of others toward their participation.

Findings indicate that physical activity is a normalizing experience for these children because it facilitates perceptions of legitimating their social identity as children and provides a setting in which social networks with peers are enhanced.

Being physically active is enabling because it increases perceptions of improving life situations and strengthens feelings of having greater control over life events.

However the gains predominantly occur at the personal or small-group level. The children seldom questioned the discriminatory treatment of individuals who do not demonstrate physical ability in the typical (i.e. stereotypical) ways.

For participation in games and events to be advantageous on a broader or societal level, children with physical disabilities collectively need to acquire access to more competitive and elite sport contexts.

For such children to internalise the beneficial aspects of the corporate other, they need increased community opportunities to participate in integrated competitive and elite athletic events. This will enhance their knowledge of organisational norms and values that facilitate professional advancement and societal organisation.

Methodology

In-depth interview data

Source of reference

Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 2000, 24, (4), 395-414.

Web reference

http://www.sagepub.com/journal.aspx?pid=149

Review of evidence on peer relationships in sport (US, 2003)

Authors

Smith, AL

Date

2003

Keywords

Social cohesion; sport; physical activity; peer relationships; adolescents; social behaviour;  motivation; self-perception

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

This literature review examines current thinking and evidence on peer relationships in physical activity settings, especially relating to the contribution of peers to self-perception, moral attitudes and behaviours, affect and motivation.

The review concentrates on the study of friendships and acceptance within groups of familiar peers and suggests that peer relationships are key elements in the youth sport experience.

The author refers to research which indicates that social acceptance and affiliation are sources of enjoyment and have been linked with perceived and actual physical competence and athletic competence and physical appearance are viewed by youth as key social status determinants.

Such associations suggest not only that peer relationships are important contributors to quality physical activity experiences, but that the physical domain is an ideal context for developing a deeper understanding of peer relationships.

Other research indicates the motivational and cognitive markers of readiness are intimately linked with a desire for social comparison and capacity to judge one's own competence. As young people mature they increasingly rely on their peers for information about physical competence.  

Consequently, physical activity contexts, such as organised sport, may serve as key contexts for youth development.

The author outlines future research directions, suggesting that sports research should draw on perspectives from research on friendship and peer acceptance; developmental and educational psychology:social learning; sport and exercise psychology and social network analysis to explore the extent to which  peer relationships contribute to an understanding of:

(i)  Self-presentational processes and such issues as social physique anxiety and the use of peer comparison and evaluation to ascertain own levels of physical competence

(ii) Developmental transitions and the extent to which various transitions and continuity/discontinuity are associated with physical activity motivation abd behaviour. Do peers also play a role in facilitiating or delaying sports transitions and how central are they to athletic and global self-identities?

(iii) The relative importance of the interaction of peer relationships and other, possibly conflicting social relationships (eg with coaches; parents) in the physical activity context  and their impact on motivation

(iv) The value of physical activity settings in promoting quality peer relationships.

Methodology

Literature review

Source of reference

Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 2003, 4, 25-39.

Web reference

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/14690292

What disabled students say about the benefits of sport (US, 1999)

Authors

Blinde, EM and Taub, DE

Date

1999

Keywords

Social capital; social integration; sport; physical activity; physical disabilities; sensory disabilities; empowerment; self-perception; men

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

This study was based on in-depth interviews with 28 male college students with physical or sensory disabilities (19 were in a wheelchair and ages ranged from 20 to 51, with 86% Caucasian and 14% African American).

It examined experiences and perceived outcomes and the empowering capability of sport and physical activity.  Results indicate that participation was associated with three empowerment outcomes: perceived competence as a social actor; facilitation of goal attainment (including setting and pursuing goals; determination; competitiveness); social integration (including bonding; broadening social skills and experiences and increased social inclusiveness).

The type and extent of physical activity or the organisational structure (recreational or competitive) generally did not affect empowering outcomes.

The salient factor affecting empowerment seemed to be the participation experience rather than the nature of the activity, with respondents emphasising the participation experience rather than the extrinsic rewards often associated with activity participation.

The authors point to the fact that the sample was male only and to a need for further work to explore the potential impact of socio-demographic variables.

Methodology

Interview data

Source of reference

Journal of Sport Behavior, 1999, 22, (2), 181-202.

Impact of a summer sport and activity programme for young people at risk (US, 1998)

Authors

Wright, P; Harwell, R and Allen, L

Date

1998

Keywords

Social capital; children; adolescents; sports; recreation; self-perception

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

This reports on a nine-week prescriptive, benefits-based, summer recreation program to develop positive self-perceptions related to academic, athletic, social skills, personal appearance, behavioural conduct and global self-worth.

The program included a variety of team, partner and individual sports, which provided the medium through which educational components were delivered - discussion of experiences, problem solving, team working, journal keeping, motivational speakers, sports clinics, a learn-to-swim program, involvement of participants in-making about the program, the history of sports and awards and a graduation certificate.

The STRIDE group (n:28) (Success Through Recreation in Disadvantaged Environments) was compared with a (non-matched) control group (n:26) and a group exposed to a traditional recreation program (n:16). On the basis of Harter Self-Perception Profile the STRIDE group experienced significantly increased self-perceptions compared to the other two groups on scholastic competence, social competence, athletic competence and personal appearance.

However, no evidence is provided about subsequent behaviour or the lasting effect of the program.

Methodology

Participant journals, observation, focus group interview data

Source of reference

Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, 1998, 16, (1), 97-113.

Web reference

http://rptsweb.tamu.edu/Journals/jpra/

The role of sport in regenerating deprived urban areas (Scotland, 2000)

Authors

Coalter, F; Allison, M and Taylor, J

Date

2000

Keywords

Social regeneration; sport; physical health; crime reduction; academic performance; urban regeneration; social cohesion; social integration; social inclusion

Country of research

Scotland

Summary of findings

Using extensive literature reviews and 10 case studies this report reviews both theoretical arguments and empirical evidence for claims that sport can contribute to improved health, reduced crime, young people's educational performance, employment and regeneration, community development and volunteering, the integration of minority ethnic groups and environmental improvements.

It discusses the nature of sports and their various dimensions and emphasises the need to distinguish between necessary conditions (participation in sport) and sufficient conditions (the various processes which may produce the variety of desired outcomes).

It acknowledges that, in many areas, there is a lack of outcome-based evidence, that many areas face significant methodological difficulties in defining and measuring outcomes, that sport can maximise many of its potential benefits via partnerships with other providers and that such benefits will best be realised via long term investments.

The area-specific conclusions are based on the following themes:

  • Sport and health
  • Sport and crime
  • Sport, young people and education
  • Sport, unemployment and regeneration
  • Community development and volunteering in sport
  • Sport and minority ethnic groups
  • The environmental value of sports

Methodology

Literature review, in-depth interviews, case studies

Source of reference

Coalter, F; Allison, M and Taylor, J, The role of sport in regenerating deprived urban areas, Edinburgh: The Scottish Executive Central Research Unit; 2000.

How sports clubs cope with social and economic change (Australia, 1999)

Authors

Driscoll, K and Wood, L

Date

1999

Keywords

Social capital; sport; recreation; rural; community

Country of research

Australia

Summary of findings

This research report is based on work undertaken in six municipalities in South West Victoria to identify how sport and recreation clubs and organisations are managing in the context of social and economic change. It employs the concept of social capital to provide a framework for understanding the role of sport and recreation clubs as part of a network of community groups, especially in rural communities. Many of the clubs examined have long histories and are highly valued by the communities. Their loss would result in a loss of experience, skill, history and social capital. The report lists a series of key contributions made by sport and recreation clubs:

(i) Social capital development via leadership, membership, participation, skill development and community development work of clubs.

(ii) Creation of community hubs and key social places.

(iii) Environmental and physical development via facilities, spaces and landscape preservation.

(iv) Health improvement and promotion.

(v) Cultural values via the maintenanceof traditions. Although this can reinforce dominant cultural values such as sexism or racism, new ways of working have the potential to challenge this.

(vi) Economic development and town survival via sports events and festivals.

(vii) Community safety via development of social networks, provision of life-saving services (e.g. learn-to-swim programmes).

(viii) Community control and investment via a local sense of control.

(ix) Junior sports development.

(x) Community identity and local pride.

They also outline a set of common issues which clubs face:

(i) Viability and sustainability (especially regarding volunteers).

(ii) Increased regulation of activity.

(iii) Managing increased complexity.

(iv) Government expectaions of rural communities.

(v) Finance.

It concludes with a series of recommendations:

(i) An increased community and government focus on building sporting and social capital.

(ii) Making better use of community and club experience and resources in small towns via Community Activity Hubs.

(iii) Increasing the capacity of clubs and communities to manage change.

(iv) Support young people's leadership and involvement.

(v) Add value to community fundraising activities by providing relevant information and support.

(vi) Integrating local community planning activity via Sport and Recreation Committees.

(vii) A greater commitment to sport and recreation planning.

(viii) Improve equity in rural commuinties via grants and facility development.

It also provides case studies of strategies for sustainability.

Methodology

Secondary analysis; group discussions

Source of reference

Driscoll, K and Wood, L, Sporting capital: changes and challenges for rural communities in Victoria, Victoria: Centre for Applied Social Research, RMIT; 1999.

Web reference

http://www.ausport.gov.au/fulltext/1999/vic/sportcapital.pdf

The role of sports clubs in local communities (Australia, 2005)

Authors

Tonts, M

Date

2005

Keywords

Sport, community, rural, social capital.

Country of research

Australia

Summary of findings

This article reports on the findings of 40 in-depth interviews and a household survey in Western Australia to explore the role of local sports clubs in social networks,  and the links between sport and other realms of rural life and the extent to which they can be regarded as contributing to the development and maintenance of social capital.

The article provides a brief review of theories of social capital and sport and previous work on rural communities in Australia.  The context of the research is the extensive restructuring of local communities as a result of agricultural decline and the impact of changes in social and economic policies which have lead to the decline of a range of rural services.

The household survey data indicated a sports participation rate (defined broadly) which was much higher than the national average.  The author explains this as resulting from: a lack of competition from other recreation and leisure provision; participation in sport provides access to social networks in relatively isolated rural communities; and sport is cheaper than other forms of entertainment.  In the household survey 82 per cent of households suggested that social interaction was the most significant aspect of sport and this was confirmed in the in-depth interviews. 

Further the author states that the role of bonding capital - 'sporting tribalism' - was particularly evident in responses.  However, the responses also indicated that sports clubs also made a broader contribution to bridging capital by overcoming community social and cultural barriers, which was necessary in order for the clubs to survive.  The clubs are wholly dependent on volunteers for fund raising and facility maintenance and the author emphasises the trust, altruism and reciprocity central to these activities, which are increasingly stressful in communities where the population is declining.

However the author also illustrates the 'dark side' of social capital pointing to 'social sorting', with income acting as a barrier to certain sports (e.g. golf).  The author also provides evidence of class and ethnic fractures in the running of the supposedly egalitarian Australian Rules football club.  The author emphasises that there is a diversity of club structures and it is hard to generalise, while stressing that social capital is not necessarily a homogenising force but can link together diverse groups. 

However, the author points to continuing issues relating the status of and attitude towards Aboriginal people which raises questions about the ability of sport to build longstanding and meaningful social capital across different racial groups in Australian rural communities.  The author also raises issues about sex-based exclusions and the sense of social exclusion felt by some non-sports participants. 

The author concludes that while there are aspects of country sport that are problematic, its positive contributions to real life should not be underestimated.  Its role in fostering social interaction, a sense of place and community and the range of physical and health benefits contribute significantly to well-being.

Methodology

In-depth Interviews, survey.

Source of reference

Journal of Rural Studies, 21, 137-149

Web reference

http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/348/description#description

The wider impacts of sports volunteering (Canada, 2007)

Authors

Harvey, J; Levesque, M and Donnelly, P

Date

2007

Keywords

Sport, volunteering, social capital.

Country of research

Canada

Summary of findings

This small-scale Canadian postal survey explores the relationship between sports volunteering and social capital, which is defined as a resource stemming from participation in social networks.  The article provides a brief review of Putnam's, Lin's and Bourdieu's approaches to social capital and reviews some research on the relationship between sport and social capital.  The authors use these reviews to emphasise the importance of understanding the dynamics of the formation and development of social networks in exploring these issues and provide a review of research relating to sex, age and language.

The research was conducted with sports volunteers in two communities – one predominantly French speaking and one predominantly English speaking – and a team and individual sport in each.  A response rate of 27 per cent was achieved, providing a sample of 271.  Social capital was measured via two tools: the social position generator and the resource generator.  The social position generator measured respondents' access to people with different social statuses/diverse occupations. 

The resources generator permitted the identification of the resources that respondents may have access to via their social networks.  The level of volunteer involvement was measured via the number of months during which the resndent had been a volunteer in the previous year; the average duration of volunteer involvement per month during the previous year; and the average lifetime duration of volunteer involvement.

A regression model was used to explore the relationship between the characteristics of individuals' social capital and types of volunteer involvement.  Although the results do not indicate the direction of cause, they did indicate that existing relationships between social capital and volunteering are related mostly to long term volunteer involvement.

The authors suggest that their findings indicate that social capital is a resource that is mostly developed and accumulated thorough investments and exchanges and develops and accumulates over time.  In such circumstances it is unreasonable to expect that it will change significantly as a result of short term volunteering.  Although long term volunteers tended to have less diversified networks, they had access to more resources in terms of social capital.

The authors conclude that the results of their pilot study indicate the need for more research on the relationship between sports volunteering and social capital in order to understand the mechanisms at work.

Methodology

Survey

Source of reference

Sociology of Sport Journal, 24, 206-223

Web reference

http://hk.humankinetics.com/SSJ/journalAbout.cfm

The ability of sport to contribute to national identity (New Zealand, 2007)

Authors

New Zealand Tourism Research Institute

Date

2007

Keywords

Sport; identity.

Country of research

New Zealand

Summary of findings

This is an extensive annotated bibliography which summarises studies on the ability of sport and events to contribute to national identity, national pride, psychic capital and a 'feel-good' factor. 

The key themes emerging from the literature were:

  • Sport is well placed to develop national identity and pride.

  • Although there is evidence that national team success and hosting events can contribute to increased self-esteem and national pride in the short-term, the longevity of these emotions is questionable.

  • All members of a community do not use sport to construct their national identity, nor do they derive pride from associating themselves with sporting success.  Sport is likely to be one of a number of factors that influence perceptions of national identity and pride.

  • In an era of increased globalisation, sport and sporting events provide a site for national identities to be expressed.  Some sports are more likely than others to become vehicles for the development and expression of national identities.  These vary from nation to nation.

  • The media is extremely influential in formation of national identities. Reflecting this, most studies analyse media transcripts and broadcasts.  National identity is often expressed through an 'us versus them' theme. Stereotypes are created for national and opposing teams.  References to history, especially war, are used as metaphors.

  • People can display immense emotional involvement in the fate of the national teams, without demonstrating the same level of attachment to the nation – in other words, a person's identification and pride associated with the All Blacks for example, may not be reflected in their identity/pride with the nation.

  • Sports teams and events provide a community with psychic income which leads to community pride which in turn contributes towards a community's quality of life.

  • Sport has the ability to develop pro-social behaviour and social capital within a community – both of which promote the maintenance of mental well-being. Social interaction, social cohesion, a sense of place and community, trust, norms and networks that facilitate cooperation and mutual benefit are all possible, but not necessarily guaranteed outcomes of sport.

  • A feature of the literature about sport and national identity/national pride is its non-empirical nature. The literature is theoretically dense, rhetorical, and replete with jargon and abstract terms.

  • The majority of the empirical literature is qualitative in nature, relying on interview data or content analyses of the sports media.

Methodology

Literature review

Source of reference

New Zealand Tourism Research Institute (2007) National identity: An annotated bibliography, New Zealand, AUT University

Web reference

www.nztri.org

How two different types of sports clubs affect local society (Japan, 2010)

Authors

Okayasu, I; Kawahara, Y and Nogawa, H

Date

2010

Keywords

 Sport; social capital; clubs.

Country of research

 Japan

Summary of findings

This is a Japanese study of the relationship between social capital and two types of sports clubs – comprehensive community sports clubs (which include non-sporting activities) and traditional community sports clubs (which are more sport focussed and less inclusive).  The article provides a broad overview of literature on social capital, sport and social capital and relevant Japanese research.

The article reports on data collected via self-completion questionnaires from 203 sports practitioners in Tokyo - 136 members of comprehensive community sports clubs and 67 members of traditional community sports clubs.  Social capital was measured on three dimensions – trust, networks and reciprocity.  The study also explored issues of community morals and the community-integration of club members.  The questionnaire used a six-point Likert scale for each item (a list is included in the article) and the data were analysed to explore the differences that the type of club had on degrees of social capital.

The results indicated that all aspects of social capital were significantly higher in the comprehensive community sports clubs.  However, the community sports clubs had a higher proportion of females (74% compared to 45%) and had a higher proportion who was members for less than one year (56% compared to 33%).  However, the type of social capital (bridging/inclusive; bonding/exclusive) varied depending on the type and location of the two types of community sports clubs.

The authors conclude that the cross-generational comprehensive community sports clubs have a higher potential for social capital than traditional community sports clubs.  They also conclude that comprehensive community sports clubs have a higher potential for bonding or bridging capital and a higher probability of being inclusive or exclusive in the Japanese context.  This is because the majority of traditional community sports clubs' memberships consist of people from the same school and university and from the same generation. Additionally, traditional community sports clubs offer a single activity and competition is the main purpose for joining these clubs.

The authors note some limitations: random sampling was not used; the study was purely quantitative and did not explore the qualitative aspects of social capital.

Methodology

Surveys

Source of reference

International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 45(2), 163-186

Web reference

http://irs.sagepub.com/

The potential of major sport events to strengthen local communities (Canada, 2006)

Authors

Misener, L and Mason, DS

Date

2006

Keywords

Social capital; sports events; community; empowerment

Country of research

Canada

Summary of findings

The authors explore the potential role of large scale sports events in policies of social regeneration, increased social engagement and improved social infrastructure. 

Using Coleman's conceptualisation of social capital (relationships of mutual reciprocity embedded in social networks which enable action) they explore the potential contribution of differing aspects of the process of bidding for, acquiring, hosting and the legacy of sporting events. 

They illustrate their argument with examples from the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.  They put forward four propositions as to how such processes can be developed to maximise their impact on social regeneration:

Community values should be central to all decision-making processes – i.e. sporting events need to embrace the core values of residents, community groups and neighbourhood associations;

Various stakeholders, particularly community interest groups, should be involved in strategic activities related to events (i.e. bid process, management, legacy);

Collaborative action should empower local communities to become agents of change, ensuring linkages between community members and local elites and power structures (this can provide knowledge and a framework for further participation in community building);

Open communication and mutual learning throughout strategic activities related to events to minimise power brokering and community exclusion.   The authors argue that, rather  than perceiving sporting events as having either positive or negative impacts on community they can be regarded as a context for the development of various forms of social capital.  The authors conclude by outlining a research agenda based an a case study approach of varying scales of events: the extent to which community values influence decision-making processes; the nature and extent of involvement of community interest groups; the degree of collaborative actions from all groups at all stages of evaluation, implementation and after sporting events.

Methodology

Secondary analysis

Source of reference

Managing Leisure, 11, 39-56

Web reference

http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/13606719.asp

The impact of a sport-based volunteer programme on young sport leaders (England, 2002)

Authors

Eley, D and Kirk, D

Date

2002

Keywords

Social cohesion; sport; citizenship; social behaviour; volunteering; adolescents

Country of research

England

Summary of findings

An analysis of a Millinneum Volunteers programme focused on sport and providing training and support for young sports leaders to undertake volunteer work in school and community.

This ongoing study describes the psycho-social characteristics of participants (males: 138; females:168; aged 16-19), the majority of whom were from the three highest social class categories. Over a nine month period assessments were made of their motives and attitudes to volunteer work and their perceptions of leadership skills.

Overall results indicated that leadership skills and volunteer motivations increased, while the importance of, and attraction to, volunteering changed over time. The biggest initial motivation was to increase leadership skills, largely for career-relevant experience and the authors suggest that there is a need for the provision of additional qualifications for volunteer work.

However, this main motivation shifted from a concern with leadership skills to the importance of the volunteer work being sports-based. The importance of 'working in the community' also increased, indicating that their experiences were positive and reinforced their commitment.

This was reflected in an increase in altruistic and social motives - the authors conclude that promoting volunteer work as a means for social satisfaction is likely to appeal to most young people.

The authors express caution, as it is difficult to be certain of the cause of increase in leadership skills as these young people were also going through a wide range of social experiences related to school, family and peer interactions and the impact of each may be impossible to single out.

Nevertheless, they state that it is reasonable to speculate that sport volunteering is a  means of encouraging pro-social behaviour and citizenship among young people.

Methodology

Survey data (Voluntary Functions Inventory and Leadership Skills Inventory)

Source of reference

Sport, Education and Society, 2002, 7, (2), 151-166.

Web reference

http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/carfax/13573322.html