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  • Contents
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This vital new handbook marks the development of sports studies as a major new discipline within the social sciences. Edited by the leading sociologist of sport, Eric Dunning, and author of the best selling textbook on sport in the USA, Jay Coakley, it both reflects and richly endorses this new found status. Key aspects of the Handbook include: an inventory of the principal achievements in the field; a guide to the chief conflicts and difficulties in the theory and research process; a rallying point for researchers who are established or new to the field, which sets the agenda for future developments; a resource book for teachers who wish to establish new curricula and develop courses and programmes in the area of sports s

Functionalism, Sport and Society
Functionalism, sport and society

One of the oldest theoretical traditions in anthropology and sociology is functionalism, also called ‘functional analysis’, ‘the functional approach’, ‘functional orientation’, ‘functional theory’, and ‘structural-functionalism’ (Zeitlin, 1973: 3). The functionalist paradigm once dominated general sociology; however, we reject the view that functionalism—while influential—ever achieved the status of a dominant paradigm in sport sociology.

The roots of functionalism in modern sociology can be traced back to the nineteenth-century work of Auguste Comte, the founding father of, and the first to use the term, sociology. Functionalism reached its zenith in general sociology shortly after the Second World War. But, as Ritzer (1988: 58) notes, ‘the 1940s and 1950s were paradoxically the years of greatest dominance and the beginnings of the decline ...

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