To the Question of Methodology in Sociology of Sports

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Snezhana Starovoitova
Saint Petersburg State University


Aleksandr Gonashvili
Metodologicheskie osnovy sociologii sporta (Methodological Foundations of Sociology of Sport)
52 pages, paperback
Saint Petersburg: Publishing House “Lema” 2017 (In Russian)
ISBN 978-5-00105-219-7

This monograph sets out to 52 pages of printed text and consists of a preface, introduction, four chapters, a conclusion and the bibliography of 102 items. The monograph is relevant in that it develops the ontological foundations of sociology of sport, and presents the main approaches and methods for research in the field.

The first chapter is devoted to the study of theoretical-methodological substantiation of the discipline sociology of sport. In this section, the author offers 18 theoretical-methodological positions, which, in his opinion, will contribute to the creation of a unified methodology of sociology of sport. Gonashvili stresses that, to date, there is no universal position on the methodology of sociology of sport in Russia. Consequently, his desire to contribute to the creation of a unified methodology of sociology of sport is a significant contribution to the development of this discipline in Russia.

In the second chapter, the author explores the concepts and categorical apparatus of the sociology of sport. The focus of this chapter is on studying the concepts of physical culture and sport. The aim of physical education is the development of bodily practices, connected with the idea of public health improvement and harmonization of the individual. Hence, physical culture serves as the basis for the formation of the ideology of the individual. Based on this logic, sport should be considered within the framework of social relations. The author argues that sport addresses specific personal or institutional needs that arise from a social context. Thus, in this chapter, the author explores the main features and objectives of physical culture and sports in order to define these concepts.

In the third chapter Gonashvili focuses on the study of the discipline of sociology of sports with the positions of the various sociological paradigms, namely the theory of Marxism, the theory of social systems, phenomenology, and symbolic interactionism, as well as with the position of relational studies in sociology. Considering the sociology of sports within the Marxist approach, the author concludes that sport is based on the determinism of the historical development of society. Therefore, the study of sports must take place in a specific historical period, while also take into account the specifics of culture and society at the time. Analyzing the theory of social systems, the author argues that the relationship of sports and other public structures have a significant influence on the development of sport in today’s world. In his discussion of phenomenology, the author highlights the internal dimension of the subjects of sports, arguing that the athlete’s behavior is based on internal representations, due to the influence of the social environment on the individual through socialization. Touching upon the theory of symbolic interactionism, the author considers the sport through the prism of characters through which communication reflects the inner picture of the world of any athlete. And finally, relational theory research in sociology allows the author to consider social relations of athletes through social practices and social activities. In each of the theories, selection of their specific characteristics, as well as consideration of the sport with the positions of the various sociological paradigms, is extremely important, because the author presents to readers diverse approaches to the application of sociological theories in sport studies.

The fourth chapter describes the problems of sociological sport studies in contemporary Russia. He notes that the main problem is the lack of a unified position of scientists on research objects within the discipline. The opinion of the scientific community is divided; some believe that the study object of sociology of sport is physical education, others believe that it is physical activity, or competition, or physical corporeality. Thus, the author pinpoints the main problems of the discipline in his country.

In all the areas outlined in the monograph, the author has made a significant contribution. This is evidenced also by bibliographical references, in which both works of foreign researchers and domestic authors are listed.

The theoretical basis of the study reflects scientific developments in the field of sociology of sport. Gonashvili has developed methodological guidelines to allow comprehensive examinations of ´sport in its modern manifestations. The author has systematized the existing domestic sources on methodology and sociology of sports.

This monograph is of scientific and practical interest. Information on the theoretical and practical approaches presented in the monograph will be useful for undergraduate and graduate students as well as scholars studying sport through the lens of sociology.

Copyright © Snezhana Starovoitova 2017

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