The significance of family culture for sportsparticipation

Sharon Wheeler

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

110 Citations (Scopus)


Contrary to commonplace assumptions regarding ‘determinants’ of sports participation, Birchwood et al. (2008) found strong evidence that family cultures were the chief factor underpinning individuals’ propensities to play sport. The central objective of this study was to investigate family sporting cultures in more detail. To do this, semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight ‘sporty’ children who attend a primary school in North Wales and their parents. The results revealed that there were sporting cultures transmitted through the families studied. These cultures were perhaps best described as ‘habituses’ – sets of beliefs and behaviours in relation to sport with historical and social dimensions. Indeed, it was clear that the parents held specific goals in relation to their children’s sports participation, and employed a set of strategies and practices in order to achieve such goals. These goals, strategies and practices were shaped by the parents’ developmental histories as well as their current relations with other parents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-252
JournalInternational Review for the Sociology of Sport
Issue number2
Early online date7 Apr 2011
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2012


  • capital
  • habitus
  • networks
  • parents
  • socialization


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