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Conflict and Consensus within the ‘Paralympic field’: A sociological investigation of an elite disability sport competition

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This research provides a sociological investigation of an elite disability sport competition known as the Paralympic Games. A quadrennial multi-sport competition for individuals with specific impairments, the Paralympic Games, is explored in this thesis through the method of semi-structured interviews. Individuals interviewed included current and former Paralympians, active and retired disability sport administrators as well as social researchers of disability and disability sport. A number of themes surface in this research which identifies and begins to explore the relationships between the core constituents which influence the Paralympic Games. Assertions about which bodies have a legitimate claim to be involved in Paralympic sport, alongside how impaired bodies are used to create an elite disability sport spectacle, such as the Paralympic Games, remain contested by members and organisations that influence, through consensus and conflict, the development of the Paralympic Movement. The Paralympic Games, of course, has not developed in isolation, but in the context of wider developments across sport. In relation to this the positive and negative influences of the International Olympic Committee upon the Paralympic Games are considered. At the core of the thesis, critical analysis has been generated through the use of the social theory of Pierre Bourdieu. In particular Bourdieu’s related concepts of habitus, capital and field, in conjunction with previous research into the Paralympic Movement and the extant literature in the field of disability studies, are used to illuminate the existence of a Paralympic field. The possible manifestation of a Paralympic field is explored through the empirical data collected. As a result this thesis highlights the nexus between the sociology of sport and disability studies. Through the fusion of these fields, and by grounding them in a robust theoretical framework, it is hoped that this research will add positively to the literature in this emerging specialism of the sociology of disability sport.



 editors comments   

Editor's comments -  [ The above is the abstract from an original PhD thesis; the final publication in the study for the author in pursuit of a doctorate; such works result in the author being awarded a PhD and the title of Dr. by an appropriately accedited University. PhD's are the culmination of a number of years work by the author supervised by two (normally PhD or MPhil qualified) academics and, with the addition of a further appropriately qualified academic (not normally from the same University) as part of a viva-voce examination team. Successful research work at PhD level is designed to add to the body of knowledge in the study area at some level.  

A PhD thesis often forms the foundation for journal articles for the author and leads to further enquiry in the form of what is called post-doctoral research. These works are characterised by comprehensive literature reviews, sometimes traditional yet multiple (and often mixed) methods, interesting if not ground breaking discussions and always directional signs toward further research; they provide for undergraduates not only a model for the possibilities for further study but a gift in terms of references in any given subject areas. ]  


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Reference :  Purdue, D. (2011). Conflict and Consensus within the ‘Paralympic field’: A sociological investigation of an elite disability sport competition: PhD Thesis. Loughborough: Loughborough University. Available from:


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Download this file (David Purdue A735312- PhD Thesis.pdf)David Purdue A735312- PhD Thesis.pdfPurdue, D. (2011). Conflict and Consensus within the ‘Paralympic field’: A sociological investigation of an elite disability sport competition: PhD Thesis. Loughborough: Loughborough University
Last Updated on Sunday, 22 July 2012 13:15  

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