Social Class and the Emergent Organised Sporting Habits of Primary-Aged Children

Sharon Wheeler, Ken Green, Miranda Thurston

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

13 Citations (Scopus)
96 Downloads (Pure)


This paper reports on the patterns of participation in organised sports of youngsters coming towards the end of primary school, with a view to identifying emergent sporting habits in relation to social class gradients. The data for the study were generated via 90 semistructured interviews with parents and children from 62 families. The data revealed differences in organised activity participation (both at and beyond school) between an ‘under-class’ and combined middle-class groups of children, as well as within-class gradients among the middleclass sub-groups. There were, for example, substantial differences between the underclass group and the combined middle-class group in terms of both the average number of bouts of organised sports participation and the repertoire or variety of sports engaged with. In effect, the mid- and upper-middle-class children were already sporting and cultural omnivores by the final years of primary schooling. We conclude that while the primary school organised sporting ‘offer’ may be neither a sufficient nor even a necessary contribution to the emerging sporting habits of mid- and upper-middle-class children, for under-class children it is likely to be necessary even though it may still prove, in the longer run, insufficient.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
JournalEuropean Physical Education Review
Early online date15 May 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 May 2017


  • Children
  • primary school
  • organised sports
  • habits
  • class


Dive into the research topics of 'Social Class and the Emergent Organised Sporting Habits of Primary-Aged Children'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this