Taylor, Bill; Piper, Heather; Garratt, Dean (Taylor & Francis, 2014-03-31)
Recent concern surrounding sports coaches’ interaction with young people has reflected a fundamental change in the way coaches and others regard the role of sports. In this paper, we consider the identification and definition of the contemporary sports coach (whether acting in a professional or volunteer capacity) as, in Foucault’s term, a ‘dangerous individual’. We suggest that the mainstream discourse of child protection and safeguarding, variously interpreted and applied, has contributed to a culture of fear in sports coaching practice. Drawing on data from a recently completed Economic and Social Research Council-funded research project, we argue that contradictions in policy and practice, which serve to privilege a particular discourse, have cast the coach as both predator and protector of young sports performers. This has undermined the role of the coach, led to intergenerational fear, created doubt about coaches’ intentions and promoted their adoption of defensive and protective practices. Utilising the concept of governmentality, we argue that, as a consequence, fundamental trust-based relationships, necessary in healthy athlete−coach engagement, have been displaced by a discourse embodied in sterile delivery and procedure governed by regulation and suspicion.
This paper reflects on and offers a critical analysis of the relationship between youth sport and citizenship development, in practice and in the UK policy context of sports coaching and physical education. While deploying data and insights from a recently completed research project in England, which identified substantial tensions in intergenerational relationships in sport and coaching, the argument and analysis also invokes wider international concerns and more generally applicable implications for policy and practice. Drawing heuristically upon the philosophy of Dewey (2007 ), it is recognised that the concept of citizenship as a form of social practice should seek to encourage the development of complementary traits and dispositions in young people. To develop socially and educationally thus entails engagement in meaningful social and cultural activity, of which one potentially significant component is participation in youth sport, both within and outside formal education. However, it is argued that any confident assumption that sporting and coaching contexts will necessarily foster positive traits and dispositions in young people should be considered dubious and misplaced. Deploying a Lacanian (1981) perspective to interpret our data, we contend that ‘liaisons’ and interactions between coaches and young people are often treated suspiciously, and regarded as potentially ‘dangerous’.
Based on a recent inaugural lecture, this article presents a critical appreciation and analysis of the application of different research methodologies to selected social and educational research contexts. The analysis is set against the backdrop of an ontological question concerning the possibility of truth. Specifically, it seeks to explore the untenability of any notion of absolute truth in contemporary qualitative inquiry, and examine the corollary implications for determining the nature, role and status of research. It is argued that the ability to challenge convention offers both the possibility and productive capacity to unsettle dominant research methodologies, while also critiquing normative social and professional research practices. Utilising three contrasting methodological frameworks: Gadamerian hermeneutics; Foucauldian theory; and Lacanian psychoanalytic theory; the narrative follows a journey of personal development and shows how seemingly different and diverse theoretical perspectives can reveal critical new insights on contemporary social research issues and practices, cultures and communities.
This paper presents a psychoanalytic-autoethnography of embodied masculinity. It examines the sport of competitive natural bodybuilding as a means to pursue relevant ontological questions as part of a wider philosophical project. The embodied narrative addresses three overlapping themes: an examination of the discourses defining a crisis of masculinity relating to an evolving body project; an analysis of the subject’s ambivalence towards the spoken ideal of ‘physical culture’ while imagining other forms of desire and risk taking practices; an analytic autoethnographic account of a competitive body experiencing temporal feelings of ‘loss’, reflecting on fragmentary experiences connected to socially conditioned roles. Enframed by psychoanalytic theory, the analysis draws inspiration from the work of Lacan and supporting cast of Butler, Kristeva and Agamben.
Garratt, Dean; Piper, Heather (Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2016-07-12)
This article examines the cinematic portrayal of touching and its politics in sports coaching, exploring how social interactions between coach and athlete are symbolically represented. The analysis focuses primarily on a well-known British-produced film, Bend it like Beckham (2002), in which scenes exhibit different forms of touching. The construction of intimate coach-athlete relationships captured through a series of filmed encounters is analysed through a social semiotic frame. This requires judgements about the authority, ‘reality-status’, and possibility of meaning arising from such representational practices. Attention is drawn to different moments of intimacy and/or sexual tension between the lead coach and central female characters, both on and off the pitch. Through a series of detailed interpretations, we show how the complexities involved in assigning intentionality in cinematic contexts serves both to assert and displace meaning. This further problematizes moral aspects of relations between coaches and athletes in tactile encounters, and especially so within the context of risk-averse safeguarding policies in sports coaching, a context characterised by increased prescription, proscription and disciplinary intervention during the years since the film was released.
Piper, Heather; Taylor, Bill; Garratt, Dean (Taylor & Francis, 2012)
This article discusses a UK based ESRC-funded research project which developed and deployed a case-study approach to issues of touch between children and professionals in schools and childcare, focusing on touch in sports coaching and its distinctive contextual and institutional characteristics.
Piper, Heather; Garratt, Dean (Sociological Research Online, 2013)
This articles discusses the London 2012 legacy claim relating to increased activity levels and sports participation. A range of factors which appear to militate against its achievement are discussed. Drawing on data from a recent ESRC-funded research project, the authors demonstrate how this has resulted in a culture of fear and corrosive mistrust, which can only reduce grassroots willingness to take up sports, and the effectiveness and commitment of the coaches required to support it.
McKay, Jane; Garratt, Dean (Taylor & Francis, 2013)
This article examines the concept of participation in relation to a range of recently imposed social and education policies. The authors discuss how disciplinary technologies, including government policy, operate at the interface of service users and providers, and examine the interactional aspects of participation where the shift from abstract to applied policy creates tensions between notions of parental responsibility and empowerment, participation and ‘positive welfare’. Three important issues/questions are raised: whether existing mechanisms for engagement between service users and service providers enable any meaningful participation and partnership in decision-making; whether multi-agency service provision is successfully incorporated within a participatory framework that allows service users to engage across and within services; and whether on the basis of our findings, there is requirement to remodel mechanisms for participation to enable user-experiences the opportunity to shape the way that services engage with families.
Piper, Heather; Garratt, Dean; Taylor, Bill (Taylor & Francis, 2013)
This article discusses recently completed research on ‘no touch’ sports coaching, by placing it in a broader social context which problematises the way child abuse and child protection (or safeguarding) are conceived and discussed in terms of policy and practice. It also provides a brief indicative summary of the research findings and offers a discussion of moral panic, risk society and worst case thinking, before drawing on Foucault's work on governmentality to offer an explanation of how the current situation arose.
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