An ‘international movement’? Decentring sport-for-development within Zambian communities

Iain Lindsey, Alan Grattan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

94 Citations (Scopus)


The potential contribution of sport to development within the Global South has recently gained prominence in terms of policy, practice and as a subject of academic interest. Internationally oriented perspectives are predominant both in descriptive and analytic contributions to the emerging sport-for-development literature. Descriptive accounts highlight the importance of international policies, resources and organizational stakeholders. Analytic contributions are aligned with instrumental and hegemonic strands of the mainstream development literature that have been criticized for insufficiently contextualizing development within localities in the Global South. To address this limitation of much existing sport-for-development research, this study of sport and community development in Lusaka, Zambia, was guided by Bevir and Rhodes’s [(2003). Interpreting British governance. London: Routledge] ‘decentred’ approach and Long’s [(2001) Development sociology: actor perspectives. London: Routledge] actor-oriented sociology. Data were primarily collected through 37 interviews with representatives of organizations involved in youth and community development work in two case study communities. Sport was almost universally considered by interviewees to be an important aspect of local development efforts due to its popularity, accessibility and the malleable way it could be used to address complex and locally identified problems. Organizations involved in sport-for-development were primarily indigenous, received limited international input and were more diverse than commonly identified in the existing literature. Particular approaches to sport-for-development both linked to and challenged local cultural values. These findings suggest that the two case study communities represent counterexamples to internationalist perspectives in the sport-for development literature. Consequently, it is suggested that alternative methodologies may enable a more balanced consideration of the relative influence of local and global aspects on sport-for-development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-110
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Policy and Politics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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