Social Theory, Sport, Leisure  book cover
1st Edition

Social Theory, Sport, Leisure

ISBN 9781138936737
Published March 17, 2016 by Routledge
220 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations


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Book Description

Ken Roberts’ Social Theory, Sport and Leisure offers a clear, compact primer in social theory for students needing to engage with the application of sociological perspectives to the study of sport and leisure. Written in a straightforward style and assuming no prior knowledge, the book offers a fresh and easy to read overview of sociology’s contribution to sport and leisure studies.

Ordered chronologically, each chapter:

  • Focuses on the work of a major social theorist and their most influential ideas
  • Provides helpful historical and biographical detail to set the person and their thinking in contemporary context
  • Identifies questions in sport and leisure on which the theory can shed useful light
  • Considers how the ideas can be, or have been, applied in the study of sport and leisure
  • Works as a self-contained unit, enabling students and lecturers to use the book flexibly according to their needs.

Written by an outstanding sociologist of leisure and sport, this intelligent yet jargon-free textbook enables students to get to grips with a wide range of important concepts and understand their diverse applications. As such, it is essential reading for any course designed to explore the place and meaning of sport and leisure in society.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction  Part I: The Classical Theories  2. Emile Durkheim  3. Talcott Parsons and Structural Functionalism  4. Karl Marx and Marxism  5. Max Weber Part Ii: The Successors  6. Norbert Elias  7. Critical Theory, the Frankfurt School and Jurgen Habermas  8. Herbert Blumer and Symbolic Interactionism  9. Michel Foucault  10. Pierre Bourdieu  Part III: The Present  11. The Latest Modern Age  12. Modernisation Theory  13. Conclusions

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Ken Roberts is Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Research Fellow at the University of Liverpool. He has also contributed to sport and leisure teaching at the University of Chester for over twenty-five years. He is a founder and honorary life member of the Leisure Studies Association, past President of the International Sociological Association Research Committee on Leisure, and past President of the World Leisure Organization’s Research Commission. His books have been used on sport and leisure courses for forty years.


This is the best introduction to understanding sport and leisure sociologically for foundation year undergraduates, from the sociologist who established the field of leisure studies.

John Horne, Professor of Sport and Sociology, University of Central Lancashire, UK

This book makes an enormous contribution to the study of sport and leisure. In his thoughtful, reflective and thorough way, Ken Roberts opens a door for a range of new studies by offering a profound examination of sociological theories and their contribution to these fields. Scholars and students will no doubt treasure this book in their reflection on and inquiry into current issues.

Prof. Atara Sivan, Associate Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences & Professor, Department of Education Studies, Hong Kong Baptist University

This is an outstanding and crucial book for any students wanting to understand sport and leisure through the lens of sociological theory. Roberts writes in a clear and engaging style, showing the reader exactly how different theories and theorists can be used to make sense of sport and leisure.

Karl Spracklen, Professor of Leisure Studies, Head of the Research Centre for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Leeds Beckett University

For those of us whose background in sociology is limited, Ken Roberts has produced an invaluable resource. He offers a concise review of the seminal lines of sociological thought, which facilitates easy access to them; shows how they interrelate; and offers insights on how each of them have been, and potentially could, enhance our understanding of leisure behavior. It is relentlessly positive in perspective, emphasizing the potential contributions of each of the lines of thought, and resisting the temptation to promote some at the expense of others.

When I entered this field in the late 1960s, Ken Roberts was one of the small number of academics who were pioneering the study of leisure. I can think of nobody else in the field who is as well-equipped to produce this resource. It is written in his usual lucid prose in a highly readable style. In my view, it is an instant classic in the field and will be as relevant in 20 years time as it is today.

John Crompton, University Distinguished Professor, Regents Professor, and Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence, Texas A&M University, USA