Sport Policy and Politics: The Inequality Gap Conference

Sport and Politics Study Group Annual Conference will be held on Thursday 16 and Friday 17 March 2017 at FC United, hosted by the Business School at Manchester Metropolitan University. The annual conference is treasured by many within the collective as it is, in part responsible for the forming of the football collective. Its collegiate and supportive environment has played a key part in nurturing friendships and collaborations for many years and this year will be no-different.

Keynotes speakers confirmed:

The call for papers is below (**deadline 25 Jan 2017) and you can find all the information here.

We would like to invite you to join us for the 11th Annual conference of the Sport and Politics Study Group, as part of the Political Studies Association.

The conference: Sport Policy and Politics: The Inequality Gap will be hosted by Manchester Metropolitan University and held at FC United’s Broadhurst Park on Thursday 16 and Friday 17 March 2017.

Manchester will follow in the tradition set by the PSA Sport sub-group in offering the conference a quality destination and we look forward to receiving abstracts and then warmly welcoming you as our guests in March.

Local organising team

Dr Dan Parnell, Dr Annabel Kiernan, Catherine Elliott, Dr Sara Ward, Dr Paul Widdop, Anne Thompson, Jon Sibley, Dr Kate Themen, Dr Chris Porter and Professor Mark James.

Attendance fee

  • £85 for PSA members
  • £100 for non-members

Charge covers entry to all conference sessions, conference refreshments and lunches, and a delegate pack.

Call for papers

We live in unprecedented times, super austerity, growing income and wealth inequality, Brexit, nationalist political agendas, a rise of the right and left political ideologies, and mass population diaspora have created a vacuum of moral panic and self-reflection. The global and national landscape of sport are not immune to these processes and in many ways prefigures the society it represents.

Traditional powerbases in sport are shifting, the global south with economic resources and political will have a growing influence over sport regionally and internationally. In amongst all of this, the current climate of political instability, scratch the surface and sport has been at the forefront of the political discourse. Perhaps this is embodied in the decision for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.

Whilst elements of the UK has cheered both the imminent ‘Brexit’ from the European Union, and the athletes leading success after millions invested in Olympic and Paralympic sport at Rio 2016. Other factions of society have expressed counter dismay at the potential negative impact of ‘Brexit’ on the economy, how the nation can accept the public funding of elite sport during the harsh reality of austerity measures including public sector funding cuts and cuts to the disability allowances of the most in need across our communities.

At the same time, sport is receiving unprecedented internal investment alongside foreign investment and TV rights deals seeing many of sporting social institutions under the stewardship of foreign owners of investment. This can only widen the disparity and disconnect between elite and grassroots sports and see sport mirroring public policy, where the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ is widening. Yet sport, as many have argued could have the power to unite, to be a resource for hope, to be a source of refuge to the poor and even new migrants.

Many in sport are waiting in anticipation for continued elite sport funding and the following investment in community and grassroots sport. Whilst others recognise this could only be start of one of the most damaging public policy eras of our time, with consequences both in the imminent and future decades – something that the power of sport simply cannot reverse.

Manchester is a global city that offers a creative and vibrant environment for cultural and sporting consumption. Nationally, the discourse surrounding ‘DevoManc’ or the city’s  key role in developing the Northern Powerhouse agenda – alongside Liverpool [capital of culture 2008], Hull [capital of culture 2017], Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle – all of which make significant contributions to what many would refer to as the holy trinity of football, music and fashion. Manchester, however, punches above its weight, particularly in cultural production. The city’s sports offer range from football teams offering a local and global profile through, from Pep Guardiola and fan ownership, through to Chinese investment. With links to the Middle-East, urban regeneration and a number of innovative sport-based public sector health partnerships.

Yet, Manchester is a city of great contrasts, where cultural consumption and vast inequality meet; where significant homelessness persists in parallel with the forward march of gentrification. In sport too, the new powerhouse of English football and arguably the richest club in the World resides within one of the most deprived areas of England. Manchester is a city where sport cuts across policy and politics and where change has happened and is happening.

The Sport Policy and Politics: The Inequality Gap Conference 2017 will provide a wide-ranging and interdisciplinary examination of these issues and more. The conference aims to explore the inter-relationship between sport policy and politics by drawing on research from politics and political science and a variety of academic fields, including: sociology, social policy, philosophy, criminology, community and youth work, history, law, geography, and sport studies. Beyond this, the conference is renowned for its supportive collegiate environment, its lively debates and familiar faces. We hope you can join us as a contributor or participant for what we hope will be another memorable conference.


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