Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Sport Sociology in Aotearoa New Zealand

I recently read a great article on the history of sports sociology in New Zealand, and how it has developed as a field of expertise at our various institutions.

Written by Professor emeritus Rex Thomson (Otago, then Unitech) and Professor Steve Jackson (Otago), this paper clearly outlines the marginalised role that sport sociology has in New Zealand, in stark comparison to the high profile role and access to funding that elite sports performance holds.

The authors explore the development of the sport sociology landscape in New Zealand, including the main players. Interestingly, the paper is very light on what is going on at AUT, which surprised me... even more because, while Lynn Kidman was mentioned in relation to her time at Otago, the paper was silent on her continuing time at AUT. 

They also point out some ideas in this sector that need a little more attention: the growing attraction of western governments to performance-based research; the dominance of the English language in the sector; and an apparent reluctance to debate views that contrast with our own.

Interestingly, while talking about PBRF and neo-liberal politics, the authors segued into a short rant on the commercialisation of academic publishing. This is hardly solely relevant to the sociology of sport in New Zealand, but is a view that I share.
The authors wonder "how Karl Marx would view the current state of academic publishing. As researchers we do the work, including hours of careful planning, data collection and analysis, writing, submitting to journals, waiting for reviews and then carefully rewriting and resubmitting our manuscripts. However, that is only half the story. Many of us will also be involved in reviewing and editing manuscripts as service to editorial boards of journals that are predominantly privately owned. Ultimately, we labour, produce and often end up buying back the products of our own labour from private, profit-making publishers who we are increasingly being asked to subsidise! For all his faults, Karl Marx may have been right (Jackson, 2015a; 2015b)" (Thomson & Jackson, 2016, pp. 97-98)
This paper is definitely worth a read.

  • Reference: Thomson, R. W., & Jackson, S. (2016). History and development of the sociology of sport in Aotearoa New Zealand. New Zealand Sociology, 31(3), 78.

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