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I am my sport: Sport and Social Identity. what is the most important thing to remember about defining sport? Today’s 1 minute paper: what symbolic meanings.

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Presentation on theme: "I am my sport: Sport and Social Identity. what is the most important thing to remember about defining sport? Today’s 1 minute paper: what symbolic meanings."— Presentation transcript:

1 I am my sport: Sport and Social Identity

2 what is the most important thing to remember about defining sport? Today’s 1 minute paper: what symbolic meanings have your family or friends given to sport?

3 What is social identity? Symbolic interactionism Sporting Meanings Rookie mistakes and sporting (sub)cultures Sporting Careers Becoming entangled/detangled from sport

4 Identity The things you have in common with others belonging The things that differentiate you from others A sense of personal location But it is not stable Identities are plural and changeable Social identities: the meanings attached to social roles, memberships, social categories

5 Self is formed in interaction with society Charles Cooley: “looking glass self” Erving Goffman: social life a theatrical performance - need backstage area to prepare for next performance Self-presentation contrived for audience even if not physically present Alan Klein: socialisation of Dominican baseball players in baseball academies for US “It’s very prestigious playing in the the States. Everybody knows you now. They follow you. But unfortunately, in the Dominican Republic when a player gets released, you wouldn’t believe the shame. You’re worthless. You’re a failure. If you don’t make it, it’s like you broke the dream”

6 Symbolic Interaction Theory Life is a process of ongoing activity - definition or interpretation To pursue plans, humans construct a meaningful definition of their situation and act on the basis of this definition “In order to understand the actions of people it is necessary to identify their world of objects” Herbert Blumer

7 Objects of the world not brute facts but mental constructions

8 Is a bus an object or a mental construction?

9 status” (178) Crossett, T. (1999)“Fans, status and the gift of golf” In J. Coakley & P. Donnelly (eds.) Inside sports, Routledge: London “By asking for an autograph, the fan pays tribute to the athlete. The athlete repays with an autograph, material evidence that the fan was in the presence of the athlete - a gift of status” (178)

10 Symbols of sport social groups Symbols part of shared stock of meanings specific to every social group We are part-time citizens in a variety of “small life worlds” in which we feel “at home” Sporting groups provide “at homeness” “Outside world” perceived dimly

11 Significance of others constructed through the use of symbols Behaviour becomes symbolic when people ascribe meaning to it Meaning becomes basis of their actions Actors must interpret other people and their actions Importance of language – e.g. words for waves in surfer slang Are there specific words associated with the sport worlds you belong to?

12 Rookie mistakes “It was quite obvious that they weren’t climbers because they had a complete rack [of equipment] each and all of the chocks were threaded upside down! I watched them for a while and they just walked up and down, stopped and had a drink, and every now and again they would put the rope down and chalk up [their hands] as if they were going to do a climb. Then they would pick up their gear and move on. Unbelievable!” Rock climbing and rugby sporting subcultures Impression management - rookies need to learn to control expressions of fear Boastful or precocious novices often given “the treatment” - taken on frightening climbs

13 I.D. How does the film suggest that the central figure develops an identity of a football hooligan? Can we apply the concept of a “looking glass self” to explain the characters in the film? I.D. Film Trailer in the wapping home end

14 Tiger Woods child prodigyTiger Woods child prodigy on the Mike Douglas show How do young athletes develop a sporting identity? Taylor Phinney racing cylist - son of professional racing Davis Phinney and Olympic racing cyclist and speed skater Connie Carpenter-Phinney

15 How do young athletes stay in sport? Ten years on are English Schools Amateur Athletics finalists still involved in sport? From “Bridging the Gap” (England Athletics, 2011)

16 A sporting career Process of interpretation inherent in all interactions Stevenson, C. (1999) “"Becoming an international athlete: making decisions about identity. Careers of international athletes - introductions to sports a process of “sponsored recruitment” by parents, siblings, friends, coaches Become entangled in role as consequence of personal relationships, commitments and obligations, reputations and identities

17 Sponsored recruitment The process of becoming an elite athlete ‘Coerced’ recruitment

18 Importance of family/friends… Value sponsor placed on sporting identity Gender Key features of sponsorship

19 – Possibilities for success – Role identity recognised by self and other as desirable Choosing a sport

20 Entanglements Relationships Commitments and obligations Reputations and identities Commitment entails conscious, self- reflexive work to develop desirable identities. Commitment

21 Sporting identity as process: becoming an athlete Did your involvement in sport follow Stephenson’s account of entanglements, commitments and identities? Did you make any rookie mistakes? Did you have your own subcultural values, language, clothing, behaviours? Could this also account for why some young people are turned off sport?

22 Are all meanings equal? Are we asked to prefer some meanings over others? Who controls meaning-making? Do we make our own meanings, or are they thrust upon us? Classic sociological debate: social structure Vs individual agency

23 Ideologies are sets of beliefs that are taken for granted in society They appear to be true but actually serve to support the interests of a dominant group, e.g. the privileged classes Discourses are ways of talking about issues that constrain the limits of what can be thought or said Ideology and Discourse

24 Louis Althusser ( ) Ideological State Apparatuses Family, media, education … sports? Interpellate or “hail” individuals Like a policeman shouting “Hey you!” When you turn in recognition you become subject to his meanings and definitions

25 1 minute paper what symbolic meanings have your family or friends given to sport?

26 Considered the relationship between sport and social identity Used concepts from symbolic interactionism to illuminate sport Identified language and rookie mistakes as a way of thinking about meanings in sporting cultures Begun to analyse personal sporting biographies in the light of Stevenson’s ideas about the social construction of the sporting career


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