Social Science blog

01 October 2012

More thoughts about the future

Simone Bacchini writes:

With London 2012 well and truly over, it’s time to think about what to do next. The topic was addressed by my colleague Gill, last week. So forgive me if I return to it. I’m not talking about Sochi 2014 or Rio 2016. I’m not even talking of actual sport; no sweaty bodies speeding along tracks or pulling punches in front of screaming crowds. It’s people sitting at desks that I have in mid, a bit like me, now.

When we began working on the Sport and Society website, we didn’t really know how exactly it would develop. What we did know was that we hoped it would be a useful resource for people interested in looking at sport – in particular the Olympics and Paralympics – ‘through the lens of the social sciences.’

Over the past few months, we’ve added material to the website: articles written expressly for it and pieces which had already appeared elsewhere and that we were kindly allowed to use. By hosting events like the successful “Sourcing Sport” one-day conference and attending conferences hosted by other institutions, we were able to make contact with researchers based in countries as diverse as Argentina, Canada, China, and Turkey. Some of them resulted in original research now freely available on the website. This might sound a bit like we’re blowing our own trumpet (and maybe we are. But only a bit!), but that’s what we aimed to do: to facilitate research.

I don’t know if – like the organisers of London 2012 – we’ll be able to have ‘inspired a generation’ (albeit of researchers). But what we hope we’ll have achieved is to have pointed out – to some maybe for the first time – how wide the scope for researching sport is.

The sociology of sport is a subfield of sociology now in its full maturity. Journals like the Sociology of Sport Journal and the International Review for the Sociology of Sport – to name only two – regularly publish innovative research on various aspects of the social side of physical activity. Publishers like Palgrave Macmillan and Routledge – and again, I’m naming just two – have been publishing monographs and edited volumes on topics that range from the discourses of Olympism to the soon-to-be-published Routledge Handbook of London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Cyberspace has been a hub of activity too. As well as the marvellous Sport and Society website (yes, now we are blowing our own trumpet!) to the resource-rich Winning endeavours, plus countless others, the internet has been instrumental in creating and maintaining research communities.

So where to now? Well, at some point in the future the Sport and Society website will have to wrap up and be archived. It will become part and parcel of the London 2012 legacy. But there is still time. Time to be inspired to explore new research avenues or revisit old ones. There is plenty of primary material: from newspaper reports to Government documents; from oral history recordings to TV footage.

Here at the British Library we aim to continue to assist all those who have ideas they want to explore. So, as well as to your local pool or running track, the next most important journey you might make now is to one of our reading rooms. We are here to help.




Sociology of Sport Journal. Champaign, Ill: Human Kinetics Publishers.

Document Supply shelfmark: 8319.696830.


International Review for the Sociology of Sport. London: Sage.

London Reference Collection shelfmark: ZA.9.a.188 (last 12 months available in Social Sciences Reading Room, open access: SPIS Journals Display).


Chatziefstathiou, D. and Henry, I. P. (eds.). Discourses of Olympism: From the Sorbonne 1894 to London 2012. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.

London Reference Collection: SPIS 796.4801 CHA 12 (open access).


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