Sport, Difference and Belonging: Conceptions of Human Variation in British Sport, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Sport, Difference and Belonging

Conceptions of Human Variation in British Sport, 1st Edition

By James Rosbrook-Thompson


216 pages

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This book combines historical and ethnographic components in examining the ideas about human variation subscribed to by coaches, commentators and sportspeople themselves. The book begins by interrogating the idea of the ‘impulsive’ black sportsman (and the ‘impulsive’ black male more generally), documenting how it came into being and gathered momentum throughout the course of British history. Drawing on the work of Paul Gilroy and Ian Hacking, the author then investigates whether such raciological ideas figure within the everyday behaviours of a group of young footballers.

Presenting an original ethnographic study undertaken at Oldfield United, a semi-professional football club situated in London, he explores how raciological ideas (and other notions of human variation) shape the self-understandings of the club’s players and thereby influence the possibilities for action available to them. In conceptualising the sense of "feeling alien" experienced by club personnel – in relation to mainstream discourses of nationhood, to politics, to the basic functioning of the nation-state and, at bottom, to the qualifications and requirements of British citizenship – ‘Sport, Difference and Belonging’ challenges the ability of the cosmopolitan tradition to make sense of contemporary urban phenomena and seeks to develop the sociological concept of denizenship.

This book will be of interest to academics and students in the fields of sociology and social policy, ‘race’ and ethnic studies, urban studies, the ethnographic method, and the sociology of sport. It may also appeal to politicians, policy makers and those working in the field of ‘race relations.’

Table of Contents

1. Introduction Part One: The History of the ‘Impulsive’ Black Sportsman 2. Plato, Property and Humanity 3. Darwin, Freud and "Good Instincts" Part Two: Conceptions of Human Difference at Olfield United FC 4. Setting the Scene 5. Ways to be Urban: People out of Place, Belonging and the case for Denizenship 6. Classifying people: 'Freshies', Frontiers and Flatulence 7. Conclusion.

About the Series

Routledge Advances in Ethnography

Ethnography is a celebrated, if contested, research methodology that offers unprecedented access to people's intimate lives, their often hidden social worlds and the meanings they attach to these.  The intensity of ethnographic fieldwork often makes considerable personal and emotional demands on the researcher, while the final product is a vivid human document with personal resonance impossible to recreate by the application of any other social science methodology.  This series aims to highlight the best, most innovative ethnographic work available from both new and established scholars.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General