Functionalist Issues in Sport

Topics: Sociology, Social class, Social stratification Pages: 6 (1953 words) Published: February 1, 2008
Using the Functionalist perspective discuss how sport can be used as an avenue for socialisation and social mobility Introduction Sports! There are very small areas in society that can generate such passion and interest and elevate its participants to almost divine status and raise them from humble beginnings to lords and ladies of the manner. For this reason sports can be used as a powerful medium for socialisation; although not exclusively as other social interactions can have the same results. Sports importance in Britain with regards to its ability to give common ground and transcend age, culture and class and establish the traditional values that we all share as being British give prominence over other social constructions. Since participation in sport is predominately social and requires the interaction in small and large communities, factors that are inherently important to British culture can be instilled. These factors or character traits such as honour, equality, fair play, respect for self and others, teamwork, Loyalty, patience, need for physical fitness, perseverance, responsibility, and self-control etc when socialised will result in a well balanced society. It is relevant however, who is doing the socialisation and what they are teaching (Coakley pp39). Therefore, sport alone does not instigate positive character traits or affect in the behaviour and attitudes of its participants. It can however be used as a powerful catalyst through programs developed by the societies, organisations, institutions and the significant others of the participants themselves (Coakley, pp93). Through Sport, society and culture can change preconceptions of traditional patriarchal bias, which favours those with able bodies and minds. This can effect change in social mobility ?the effect of moving from one class stratification to another?, enabling self-betterment, a state of classlessness and the equality of gender, race and ability as regards to access to sports, facilities and funding (Jones, Armour 2000. pp71). These theories are well known and is the sociological module known as functionalism.

Discussion Sports and institutions are symbiotic, relying on each other to supply participants, administrators, facilities, organization, interaction, competition and social discourse etc. For this reason sports can be powerful sites for socialisation (Coakley 2000). Horne (1999 et al, p.95) and Kay (1997, p 47) have defined socialisation as the means to which we as a society learn rules and social norms that enable us to take part and function in society. This is a continual process that is developed and adjusted on a day to day basis as a direct result of our experiences. Human beings are not genetically born able to socialize nor do they possess societies positive character traits, born cooperative, compassionate or competitive (Jones, Armour 1998). Socialisation occurs because people wish to ? fit in? and are eager for appreciation, and to achieve the expectations from our significant others; concisely socialisation is the communication of culture (COAKLEY, 2000).

It has been stated (Horne, et al, 1999 p?) that socialisation is split into two groups, primary and secondary, with primary socialisation the social interaction at childhood, dealing with interaction between the family unit, schools, clubs and the media. As a child grows their experience of social interaction broadens with experiences from many life sites. Secondary socialisation differs from primary insofar as adults are aware position in class stratification and any political-socio trends (HORNE, et al 1999).

This view in Britain of Sports being a powerful means to instill good character and cultural traits has long been established with individuals, institutions and organisations. British culture views sports as a catalyst to national mobility, and as something that showcases British spirit and excellence on an international scale. Juvenal?s (circa, 55 AD ? 127...
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