Sports clubs and civic inclusion: Rethinking the poverty of association

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Most current scholarship agrees that low levels of civic participation in deprived neighbourhoods can, in part, be explained by the deficiencies of associational life in these areas. Significantly, most writers highlight the importance of neighbourhood effects – the characteristics of local areas – on participation in civic activity. Theoretically, this has been explained by the suggestion that deprived neighbourhoods lack the social structure to organize a vibrant associational life, suffering from high unemployment, an unstable population, poor community facilities and low levels of generalized trust. However, the role of sports clubs is neglected in much of the existing literature in this area. The position of sports clubs as a community resource, providing a hub for social networks, generating information and promoting trust, has long been acknowledged and yet this is rarely included in discussions about the dynamics of civic association in deprived areas. Instead, crude generalizations about the effects of poverty on social infrastructure, and the ability of people on low incomes to engage in group activity, abound in much of the existing research. This paper examines the relationship between theory and recent policy developments, raising three areas of uncertainty that need to be addressed if a coherent and effective programme for sports policy is to be implemented.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberN/A
Pages (from-to)1263-1278
Number of pages16
JournalSport in Society
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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