‘It’s not about disability, I want to win as many medals as possible’: The social construction of disability in high-performance coaching
Townsend, R. C., Huntley, T., Cushion, C. J., & Fitzgerald, H. (2018). ‘It’s not about disability, I want to win as many medals as possible’: The social construction of disability in high-performance coaching. International Review for the Sociology of Sport. https://doi.org/10.1177/1012690218797526
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12506
This article draws on the theoretical concepts of Pierre Bourdieu to provide a critical analysis of the social construction of disability in high-performance sport coaching. Data were generated using a qualitative cross-case comparative methodology, comprising 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork in high-performance disability sport, and interviews with coaches and athletes from a cross-section of Paralympic sports. We discuss how in both cases ‘disability’ was assimilated into the ‘performance logic’ of the sporting field as a means of maximising symbolic capital. Furthermore, coaches were socialised into a prevailing legitimate culture in elite disability sport that was reflective of ableist, performance-focused and normative ideologies about disability. In this article we unpack the assumptions that underpin coaching in disability sport, and by extension use sport as a lens to problematise the construction of disability in specific social formations across coaching cultures. In so doing, we raise critical questions about the interrelation of disability and sport.
This is an author’s accepted version of an article published in the journal: International Review for the Sociology of Sport. © 2018 Sage.