, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 179-197

Research methods in the sociology of sport: Strategies and problems

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Abstract

The kinds of research questions asked in the sociology of sport are no different from those generated by other substantive areas of sociology. However, while the more established areas of social inquiry have developed methods of research specifically suited to the situation in which their research is done, the sociology of sport has not yet reached this stage of development. The theoretical frameworks borrowed from other areas in sociology generate relevant questions, while the research methods borrowed from other areas in sociology often require adaptation to the particular situations found in the sociology of sport. This paper looks at three specific areas of sports study, and points to those problems that require new adaptations of the available research methods in order to deal with specific situational constraints. These areas may be roughly defined as: (a) the analysis of patterns of ownership in professional sports; (b) the analysis of athletic careers within the occupational culture of sport; and (c) the analysis of sports audiences. The authors conclude that theoretically informed and relevant research can be conducted in these areas provided that researchers are able to find imaginative adaptations of their techniques and procedures.

Revised version of a paper presented at the 9th World Congress of Sociology, August 14–19, 1978, in Uppsala, Sweden.