Power and domination in sport policy and politics: three intertwined levels of exercising power
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionInternational Journal of Sport Policy and Politics. 2018, 10 (4), 653-667. 10.1080/19406940.2018.1490335
In this article, I discuss the fruitfulness of a three-level approach for studying power and domination in sport policy and politics, derived from the work of Pierre Bourdieu and Steven Lukes. This approach provides new insight into the deep structures that form sport policy and politics. Bourdieu’s concepts of social field, symbolic capital and symbolic power are invaluable for examining and revealing important aspects of power in sport policy and politics. To paint a fuller picture of power-relations, I have supplemented the Bourdieusian approach with Lukes’ three-dimensional perspective on power. Lukes’ third dimension of power resembles Bourdieu’s emphasis on how one’s perceptions and preferences are shaped to legitimate the existing order of things. I argue further that Lukes’ second dimension of power – focusing on situations where decisions in potential conflicts are hindered (i.e. agenda setting) – partly relates to Bourdieu’s perspective. However, Bourdieu focuses less on the direct exercising of power in political processes, which resembles the first dimension advocated by Lukes. I argue that it is necessary for this dimension of power to be incorporated into the study of sport policy. Moreover, the three dimensions can be viewed as intertwined levels in an analysis of specific social fields, specifically the sport (policy) field. Norwegian sport policy in general and local facility policy specifically serves as the empirical basis for the current analysis.