Loughborough University
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Conflict and consensus within the paralympic field: a sociological investigation of an elite disability sport competition

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posted on 2011-05-12, 11:11 authored by David Purdue
This research provides a sociological investigation of an elite disability sport competition known as the Paralympic Games. A quadrennial multi-sport competition for individuals with specific impairments, the Paralympic Games, is explored in this thesis through the method of semi-structured interviews. Individuals interviewed included current and former Paralympians, active and retired disability sport administrators as well as social researchers of disability and disability sport. A number of themes surface in this research which identifies and begins to explore the relationships between the core constituents which influence the Paralympic Games. Assertions about which bodies have a legitimate claim to be involved in Paralympic sport, alongside how impaired bodies are used to create an elite disability sport spectacle, such as the Paralympic Games, remain contested by members and organisations that influence, through consensus and conflict, the development of the Paralympic Movement. The Paralympic Games, of course, has not developed in isolation, but in the context of wider developments across sport. In relation to this the positive and negative influences of the International Olympic Committee upon the Paralympic Games are considered. At the core of the thesis, critical analysis has been generated through the use of the social theory of Pierre Bourdieu. In particular Bourdieu’s related concepts of habitus, capital and field, in conjunction with previous research into the Paralympic Movement and the extant literature in the field of disability studies, are used to illuminate the existence of a Paralympic field. The possible manifestation of a Paralympic field is explored through the empirical data collected. As a result this thesis highlights the nexus between the sociology of sport and disability studies. Through the fusion of these fields, and by grounding them in a robust theoretical framework, it is hoped that this research will add positively to the literature in this emerging specialism of the sociology of disability sport.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


© David Purdue

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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