Sociology of sport: South Africa

Cora Burnett

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter offers a comparative description of the separatist development of mainstream sociology focusing on sport-related phenomena versus the sociology of sport located within Human Movement or Sport Science departments at public universities in South Africa. Key findings relate to the production of fragmented bodies of knowledge, individual research agendas, and national funding in alignment with national development priorities that guide current neo-colonial knowledge production practices. There is a domination of political themes (pre- and post-apartheid) with more recent foci on nation building and Sport for Development and Peace which only partly respond to the call for indigenous knowledge production and critical scholarly work. The increased publications and mainstream sociological inquiry of the 2010 FIFA World Cup were not maintained as scholars continue to work in isolation. Other main sociological themes for both sectors include gender, with only a few established scholars producing critical work in response to a national call for an 'Africanization', anti-colonial stance in knowledge production. There seems to be an increasing trend to bridge the theory-practice divide and serve the public sphere which further pushes critical sociological work to the margins of both fields. The chapter provides a comparative analysis and critical overview of the development and current sociology of sport practices at public South African universities. It articulates the most significant discourses with global and local manifestations, and as such communicates key critical findings to guide strategic synergies and future sociological research.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch in the Sociology of Sport
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameResearch in the Sociology of Sport
ISSN (Print)1476-2854


  • Anti-colonialism
  • Sociological research
  • Sociology of sport
  • South Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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