• Adherence to exercise in later life: How can exercise on prescription programmes be made more effective?

      Thurston, Miranda; Green, Ken; University College Chester (Oxford University Press, 2004-09-01)
      A broad consensus has emerged in relation to the desirability of promoting exercise among a variety of ‘at risk’ groups via ‘exercise on prescription’ (EoP) schemes, as an alternative to orthodox, biomedical approaches to the management of health problems. Underpinning the rationale for such schemes is the notion that they can act as vehicles for encouraging long-term adherence to exercise. Whilst there is a common sense appeal to using EoP schemes to promote exercise, research to date suggests that evidence of their impact is limited. This paper attempts to make sense of these findings in the light of recent debates about adult lifestyles and exercise. More specifically, it brings work in the sociology of leisure to bear on the topic, on the premise that any study of adults' propensity towards sustainable physical activity needs to be viewed as an aspect of their lives ‘in the round’. Such an analysis points up the value of synthesizing perspectives from across the disciplinary divide in order to shed light on particular ‘problems’, which obviate the necessity for further empirical work. The paper concludes by identifying a number of implications for public health policy and practice with respect to the matter of encouraging lifelong participation in sport and exercise in general, and via EoP schemes in particular. One such implication is the development of a model for understanding participation that shifts the emphasis away from a focus on motivation and behaviour change per se towards satisfaction and enjoyment through the development of skills and relationships. Reconceptualizing the matter of participation in this way is likely to lead not only to a more realistic appreciation of what can be expected from EoP schemes, but also a more adequate understanding of adherence to exercise in later life.
    • Education, Physical Education and Physical Activity Promotion

      Smith, Andy; Green, Ken; Thurston, Miranda; Edge Hill University; University of Chester; Innland Norway University (Routledge, 2017-12-18)
      This chapter examines: (i) the policy rationale for viewing education and schools as an appropriate setting for PA promotion; (ii) the apparent role PE is expected to have in fostering lifelong participation in PA and sport; and (iii) the limits of education in promoting PA given the significance of wider social inequalities in families and the wider societies of which they are a part. It is suggested that while engaging in PE may help promote PA among young people in schools, and may strengthen their sporting predispositions and biographies, whether the content, organization and delivery of curricula promotes PA often depends on the predispositions, habits and experiences that are acquired and reproduced outside of education in childhood and family contexts characterized by varying degrees of social inequality.
    • "Even if you don't care ... you do care afer all"

      Røset, Linda; Green, Ken; Thurston, Miranda; Inland University of Applied SCience, Norway; University of Chester, UK; Inland University of Applied Sciences, Norway
      In the past decade or more, improving young people’s mental health has been identified as a priority for policy-makers in many countries, including Norway. Physical education (PE), as a setting for physical activity, is increasingly viewed as having a potentially significant role to play in addressing mental health among the young. This paper reports the findings from a study of 148 Norwegian youngsters (68 girls and 80 boys) from the 10th grade (15-16 year olds) in eight secondary schools in Norway in 2017. It explores Norwegian youngsters’ experiences of PE in relation to aspects of their mental health – specifically, being judged and, by extension, ‘othered’. The findings suggest that PE may undoubtedly serve to generate positive feelings associated with physical activity and games and, in doing so, bolster some youngsters’ self-esteem and self-identities. On the other hand, however, for those less competent in sporting terms, and whose bodily self-image is not particularly positive, the public nature of PE and the nature of the activities that constitute the subject can give rise to unplanned and unintended harm to some youngsters’ mental health – especially in countries, such as Norway, where sport is a significant aspect of the group habitus and collective ‘we-group’ identity.
    • From public issues to personal troubles: individualising social inequalities in health within local public health partnerships

      Mead, Rebecca; Thurston, Miranda; Bloyce, Daniel; University of Lancaster; Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences; University of Chester (Taylor and Francis, 2020-05-20)
      This paper explores public health policy implementation through partnership working at the local level by examining how local actors from public health and the wider workforce, make sense of and work on social inequalities in health. An ethnographic case study was used to examine policy implementation in one local strategic partnership in north-west England during a period of significant resource constraint. Semi-structured interviews were the primary method of data generation. Sensitising concepts from figurational sociology were used to develop a theoretical account of how local policy implementation directed at narrowing social inequalities in health tended to give rise to relatively fragmented and short-term services, projects and practices, which focused on lifestyle factors and behaviour change. Theorising partnership work as figurations goes some way to explaining the apparent paradox among participants who expressed a relatively detached appreciation of wider social influences, alongside emotional involvement in their work. This process of individualisation explains how local professionals tended to conceptualise health inequality and the social determinants of health as personal troubles. Individualisation meant that the social reality of working in partnerships on difficult issues was simplified. Thus, any scope for working on the social determinants of health tended to be overlooked. The extent to which this was intentional or a matter of struggling to see opportunities, or a mixture of the two, was difficult to discern. Although the policy landscape has changed, the findings give some insight into understanding how local collaborative processes reproduce local public health work underpinned by lifestyle choices.
    • Girls, young women and sport in Norway: A case study of sporting convergence amid favourable socio-economic conditions

      Green, Ken; Thurston, Miranda; Vaage, Odd; Mordal-Moen, Kjersti; University of Chester; Hedmark University (Taylor & Francis, 2015-04-14)
      Based primarily on quantitative data from the Norwegian Statistisk Sentralbyrå (Statistics Norway) study of Mosjon, Friluftsliv og Kulturaktiviteter, this paper explores sports participation among females – and girls and young women, in particular – in Norway in the early years of the twenty-first century. In line with the observation that sport can be considered epiphenomenal, the paper argues that the comparatively high levels and marked increases in sports participation among young women are likely to have a great deal to do with their socio-economic status and, in particular, the diminishing gender gap over the past two decades. In short, the paper argues that trends in sports participation between 1997 and 2007 suggest that while young women in Norway may not be self-described feminists, they are heirs to the culture fostered by second-wave feminism: they have taken advantage of growing up in a country where standards of living are particularly high and at a time of greater equality between the sexes in order, among other things, to exploit the sporting opportunities increasingly available to them. In terms of the policy implications, the most salient lesson to be learned from the Norwegian situation – by countries keen to promote sports participation among girls and young women – is that instead of individually oriented approaches, sports policies need first and foremost to adopt society-level perspectives that address socio-economic gender disparities.
    • Isn’t it good, Norwegian wood? Lifestyle and adventure sports participation among Norwegian youth

      Green, Ken; Thurston, Miranda; Vaage, Odd; University of Chester; Hedmark University College; Norsk Statistisk Sentralbyra (Taylor & Francis, 2014-08-19)
      Based primarily on quantitative data from the Norwegian Statistisk Sentralbyrå (Statistics Norway) study of Mosjon, Friluftsliv og Kulturaktiviteter (Vaage, 2009) supplemented by a little qualitative data, this paper explores Norwegian youngsters’ (and, to a lesser extent, adults’) engagement with conventional and lifestyle sports via an examination of recent trends. Norway boasts particularly high levels of sports participation as well as sports club membership among young people and young Norwegians are the quintessential sporting omnivores. Nevertheless, among the age group where regular participation peaks in Norway (16-19-year-olds) the popularity of games declined over the decade 1997-2007 while participation in lifestyle sports continued to increase (Vaage, 2009). It seems that the particular mix of conventional and lifestyle sports that Norwegian youngsters favour has shifted within a generation, with lifestyle activities more prominent in 2007 than they had been even a decade earlier. The changes in participation in a particular area of sporting participation strongly associated with Norwegian culture – friluftsliv (outdoor life) – may well represent a shift among Norwegian youth towards sports and physical activities that offer alternative forms, as well as types, of participation to conventional sports. They may also represent alternative motivations to those traditionally associated with sport and, for that matter, friluftsliv. The paper draws upon these findings in order to tentatively hypothesize developments in youth leisure-sport in Norway.
    • Local status and power in area-based health improvement partnerships

      Powell, Katie; Thurston, Miranda; Bloyce, Daniel; University of Sheffield ; Hedmark University College, Norway ; University of Chester (SAGE, 2014-04-01)
      Area-based initiatives (ABIs) have formed an important part of public policy towards more socio-economically deprived areas in many countries. Co-ordinating service provision within and across sectors has been a common feature of these initiatives. Despite sustained policy interest in ABIs, little empirical work has explored relations between ABI providers and partnership development within this context remains under-theorised. This paper addresses both of these gaps by exploring partnerships as a social and developmental process, drawing on concepts from figurational sociology to explain how provider relations develop within an ABI. Qualitative methods were used to explore, prospectively, the development of an ABI targeted at a town in the north west of England. A central finding was that, although effective delivery of ABIs is premised on a high level of coordination between service providers, the pattern of interdependencies between providers limits the frequency and effectiveness of cooperation. In particular, the interdependency of ABI providers with others in their organisation (what is termed here ‘organisational pull’) constrained the ways in which they worked with providers outside of their own organisations. ‘Local’ status, which could be earned over time, enabled some providers to exert greater control over the way in which provider relations developed during the course of the initiative. These findings demonstrate how historically constituted social networks, within which all providers are embedded, shape partnership development. The theoretical insight developed here suggests a need for more realistic expectations among policy makers about how and to what extent provider partnerships can be managed. Keywords: partnership, collaboration, community services, area-based initiatives, organisational pull, figurational sociology
    • Norwegian youngsters’ perceptions of physical education: Exploring the implications for mental health

      Røset, Linda; Green, Ken; Thurston, Miranda; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2019-06-24)
      Improving young people’s mental health has become a priority for policy-makers in Norway as elsewhere. Although the evidence is limited, physical activity has been identified as having a role in mental health promotion with school physical education (PE) typically being presented as a suitable setting. Few studies, however, have explored young people’s perceptions and experiences of PE and the possible consequences for their mental health – the departure point for this paper. We approach this issue sociologically by focusing on the processes through which PE is enacted. Qualitative data were generated by 31 focus groups involving 148 youngsters from the 10th grade (15–16-year-olds) in eight secondary schools in Norway. The overarching theme to emerge was that PE was valued by the students for what it was not as much as what it was. The appeal of PE often lay in being different and a break from ‘normal’ school lessons and, at the same time, an opportunity for informal social interaction and strengthening social bonds. Enjoyment of PE – even among those with limited sporting competence – was understood as giving rise to cathartic benefits and an antidote to their increasingly academic, routinized and performance-oriented school lives. However, processes relating to the organization, delivery and assessment of lessons meant that these benefits were sometimes compromised for some young people. We conclude that as far as the mental health of young people is concerned, the best justificatory defence for PE becomes physical recreation as a solution to (academic) schooling rather than PE as education.
    • Physical education and health promotion: A qualitative study of teachers' perceptions

      Green, Ken; Thurston, Miranda (Emerald, 2002-06-01)
      This article discusses the extent to which health promotion is central to physical education (PE) teachers' philosophies and practices. 35 PE teachers in secondary schools in north-west England were interviewed.
    • A quest for relaxation? A figurational analysis of the transformation of yoga into a global leisure time phenomenon

      Thurston, Miranda; Bloyce, Daniel; Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, University of Chester
      Eric Dunning and Norbert Elias began developing their concept ‘quest for excitement’ in the 1960s. In this paper we consider the concept in the context of their work on the civilizing process and leisure in the sparetime spectrum, applying it to an analysis of the global diffusion and transformation of yoga. In so doing, we develop a preliminary theoretical account of its global popularity as a leisure-time movement form. We specifically consider the extent to which yoga’s transformation from the late 19th century onwards can be understood as a socially generated psychological quest for excitement rather than as a need for relaxation. We take a long-term developmental perspective, focusing on processes of globalization to explain the transformation of yoga into an increasing variety of forms. We argue that its global popularity is linked to its transformation into a diversity of styles, which provide flexible, individualized, non-competitive and health-oriented leisure opportunities that have become attractive to an increasing number of people. We conclude that the contouring of yoga in this way reflects the socially generated leisure time needs of complex societies. Our preliminary theoretical account, informed by the work of Dunning and colleagues illuminates how yoga, as a polymorphous social practice, provides leisure enclaves which can lead to an upsurge of satisfying emotions and hence can be psychologically restorative.
    • Social class and the emergent organised sporting habits of primary-aged children

      Wheeler, Sharon; Green, Ken; Thurston, Miranda; Edge Hill University; University of Chester; Innland University Norway (Sage, 2017-05-15)
      This paper reports on the patterns of participation in organised sports of youngsters coming towards the end of primary school, with a view to identifying emergent sporting habits in relation to social class gradients. The data for the study were generated via 90 semi-structured interviews with parents and children from 62 families. The data revealed differences in organised activity participation (both at and beyond school) between an ‘under-class’ and combined middle-class groups of children, as well as within-class gradients among the middle-class sub-groups. There were, for example, substantial differences between the under-class group and the combined middle-class group in terms of both the average number of bouts of organised sport participation and the repertoire or variety of sports engaged with. In effect, the mid- and upper-middle-class children were already sporting and cultural omnivores by the final years of primary schooling. We conclude that while the primary school organised sporting ‘offer’ may be neither a sufficient nor even a necessary contribution to the emerging sporting habits of mid- and upper-middle-class children, for under-class children it is likely to be necessary even though it may still prove, in the longer run, insufficient.
    • Tackling the "couch potato" culture amongst children and young people

      Green, Ken; Smith, Andy; Thurston, Miranda; University College Cheter (2004)
    • Theorising lifestyle drift in health promotion: explaining community and voluntary sector engagement practices in disadvantaged areas

      Powell, Katie; Thurston, Miranda; Bloyce, Daniel; University of Sheffield, Hedmark University College, University of Chester (Taylor and Francis, 2017-07-24)
      The past two decades have seen an increasing role for the UK community and voluntary sector (CVS) in health promotion in disadvantaged areas, largely based on assumptions on the part of funders that CVS providers are better able to engage ‘hard-to-reach’ population groups in services than statutory providers. However, there is limited empirical research exploring CVS provider practices in this field. Using ethnographic data this paper examines the experiences of a network of CVS providers seeking to engage residents in health promoting community services in a disadvantaged region in the North of England. The paper shows how CVS providers engaged in apparently contradictory practices, fluctuating between an empathically informed response to complex resident circumstances and (in the context of meeting externally set targets) behavioural lifestyle approaches to health promotion. Drawing on concepts from figurational sociology, the paper explains how lifestyle drift occurs in health promotion as a result of the complex web of relations (with funders, commissioners and residents) in which CVS providers are embedded. Despite the fact that research has revealed the impact of targets on the work of the CVS before, this paper demonstrates more specifically the way in which monitoring processes within CVS contracts can draw providers into the neoliberal lifestyle discourse so prevalent in health promotion.
    • “[We’re on the right track, baby], we were born that way!” Exploring sports participation in Norway

      Green, Ken; Thurston, Miranda; Vaage, Odd; Roberts, Ken; University of Chester; Hedmark University College; Norsk Statistisk Sentralbyra (Taylor & Francis, 2013-02-25)
      Based on quantitative data from the Norwegian Statistisk Sentralbyrå (Statistics Norway) study of Mosjon, Friluftsliv og Kulturaktiviteter, this paper explores trends in Norwegians' participation in sports, with a focus on young people. Norway boasts particularly high levels of sports participation as well as sports club membership and young Norwegians are the quintessential sporting omnivores. Among other things, the Statistics Norway study reveals substantial increases in participation (among young people and females especially) during the period 1997–2007, a shift in the peak of participation to the late teenage years, a relatively high level of lifelong participants, a re-bound effect in the post-child rearing years and a growth in lifestyle sports. Young Norwegians grow up in a socio-economic context of relative equality between the sexes and high standards of living. An abundance of natural and artificial outdoor and indoor sporting facilities alongside a well-established voluntary sports club sector and an elementary school system that emphasizes physical exercise and recreation, as well as high levels of parental involvement, add to the favourable socio-economic conditions to create seemingly optimal circumstances for sports participation. All these reinforce the sporting and physical recreation cultures deeply embedded in Norwegian society and embodied by the very many middle-class parents in a country which, for the time being at least, remains relatively young in demographic terms. In terms of lessons to be learned for policy towards sports and physical education beyond Norway, there may be grounds for some optimism around parental involvement in children's sport as well as the potential appeal of lifestyle sports. That said, it is likely to be the greater socio-economic equalities in Scandinavian countries such as Norway that make them unrealistic benchmarks for sports participation elsewhere.