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School sports is the solution: what is the problem?
Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, GIH, Department of Sport and Health Sciences, Forskningsgruppen för pedagogik, idrott och fritidskultur. Nationella forskarskolan i idrottsvetenskap, Göteborgs universitet.
2014 (English)In: European Journal for Sport and Society, ISSN 1613-8171, Vol. 11, no 4Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Since the late 1980s, the Swedish education system has undergone major changes that resulted in the school system being decentralised, market adjusted, and privatised. This has created local, quasi-markets in which there is a constant struggle for pupils. During the same period, the presence of school sports has increased significantly. The aim of this paper is to elucidate the reasons why schools have chosen to specialise in sports and to determine what makes sports so viable for schools. As an empirical foundation for the study, telephone interviews with principals at 50 selected schools offering school sports were conducted. The results show that the principals experienced increased competition in the local school market, and following Bourdieu's concept of capital, that school sports fill an important need for schools because they bring different forms of important and necessary capital. Furthermore, school sports are valuable due to the diversity and the various meanings and values that society associates with sports. This article shows that a side effect of the market adaptation of the Swedish school system is that school sports have evolved into a marketing product for recruiting pupils.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 11, no 4
Keyword [en]
principals, pupil recruitment, school market, secondary school, Sweden
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Social Sciences/Humanities
URN: urn:nbn:se:gih:diva-3414OAI: diva2:740929

At the time of Magnus Ferry's dissertation the article was accepted for publication by the European Journal for Sport and Society.

Available from: 2014-08-26 Created: 2014-08-26 Last updated: 2015-01-08Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Idrottsprofilerad utbildning: i spåren av en avreglerad skola
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Idrottsprofilerad utbildning: i spåren av en avreglerad skola
2014 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
In the wake of a deregulated school system : school sports in Sweden
Abstract [en]

This thesis aims to contribute to a deeper understanding of the Swedish school sports system, a system which has evolved since the beginning of the 1970s, the prevalence of which has increased significantly at all school levels since the mid-1990s and today attracts a large number of pupils and teachers.

Starting with the neoliberal discourse which has had a major impact on the development of the Swedish school system, and inspired by Pierre Bourdieu’s theoretical framework, the reasons for the emergence of the school sports system and the reasons why schools chose to specialise in sport is described. Also examined are the pupils and teachers involved and the mechanics behind their participation.

Empirically, this thesis is based on registry data, telephone interviews with principals at schools offering school sports and questionnaires responses from pupils and teachers involved in school sports.

The results of the thesis suggest that the main reason school sports has become so common is closely connected to increased competition on the local school market; by offering school sports, schools have found a possible way to attract more pupils. Furthermore, the results show that the social characteristics of pupils who have been selected or have chosen to participate in school sports differs from the national population of pupils and participants in sports clubs. This suggests that the available supply of school sports is better adapted to some pupils’ social backgrounds and habitus. In relation to the teachers involved, the results show that other resources than what is normally required to become a teacher is valued in school sports. Instead of a teacher certificate, a coaching education and experiences in competitive sport is valued highly which suggests that this is recognised as symbolic capital for teachers in school sports.

In conclusion this thesis demonstrates that school sports is influenced by both the fields of education and sport, and that the increased supply of school sports has implications for both fields.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Göteborg: Göteborgs universitet, 2014
, Gothenburg studies in educational sciences, ISSN 0436-1121 ; 355
Bourdieu, field of education, field of sport, neoliberal discourse, pupils, school sports, teachers
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Social Sciences/Humanities
urn:nbn:se:gih:diva-3413 (URN)978-91-7346-795-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-09-19, Aulan, GIH, Lidingövägen 1, Stockholm, 13:00 (Swedish)
Forskningslinjen Utbildning
Available from: 2014-08-29 Created: 2014-08-26 Last updated: 2016-09-19

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