Call for Papers | “Informal sport and leisure, urban space and social inequalities” | Special Issue of Leisure Studies. Call ends May 7, 2021

This Special Issue will bring together a collection of papers from global scholars which examine informal sport as a growing form of collective participatory leisure practice. Loosely defined as being non-club, non-referee and no-fee membership based (Jeanes et al., 2019), informal leisure and sport activities are a global and familiar feature of multicultural urban social life and the public spaces of urban environments.

While informal sport may appear to be a poor relation of formal sport, participation in informal sport is now more popular than organised club sport. ‘Jumpers for goal posts’ football matches, ‘turn up and play’ basketball, volleyball, gully and street cricket (and variations of these) are established transnational informal sporting traditions. Migrant settlement and social and leisure participation have often been key to developing these. The dynamic nature of informal sport is also evident in the emergence of newer collective leisure activities, such as Parkrun and urban walking, and reflects the inventive diversification of informal sport and leisure activities.

The Special Issue invites a focus on the ways in which informal sport and leisure depend on public spaces (parks, designed leisure spaces) which have been a key lifeline during the global Covid 19 pandemic and reused ‘edge land’ and/or incidental urban space (e.g. car parks,  vacant building sites). It also invites a focus on the ways in which informal sport and leisure involves marginalised and precarious urban populations, gives rise to co-ethnic and ethnically diverse identifications and forms of social exchange and is gender, dis/abilities and age ex/inclusive.

The Special Issue will provide an opportunity to showcase global leisure studies research which variously explores the meaning and implications of informal sport as a growing form of collective leisure activity and the wider social affordances – and exclusions – of these leisure practices. The Special Issue would allow interdisciplinary, international scholars working in the field to present research which explores the diverse and different aspects of the phenomenon. While social and ethnic inequalities would be a key theme of the Special Issue, it would encourage work that integrates spatial and digital dimensions. We think there have been less research which addresses the role of space and online networks in leisure practices and a focus on forms of space, landscape design and materialities and digital practices would deliver new and original empirical and theoretical debates for Leisure Studies audiences.

In this context the Special Issue would have the scope to bring together papers which examine and theorise informal sport and leisure and develop understanding of informal sport and leisure in relation to a range of exciting and original areas which include but are not confined to the following areas:

      • Migration and transnationalism and leisure participation
      • Traditional, changing, increasing, new and emergent informal sports practices
      • Social identities, solidarities and belonging
      • Social divisions, exclusions and marginalisations;
      • Social life, conflict, community and conviviality
      • Bodies and embodied social interactions
      • Health and wellbeing and social inclusion policy interventions and agendas;
      • Urban space and the territories of informal sport
      • Materialities, landscape design, urban planning and social cohesion;
      • Social media and informal sport networks;
      • Changes to informal sport and leisure practices and priorities due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

The Special Issue will consist of an Editorial introductory essay and will include up to 10 articles and be published in Autumn/Winter 2022.

Submission Instructions

We are very pleased to invite Expression of Interest abstracts that outline how contributions will engage with informal sport and inequalities themes. These should be between 250-500 words. Please email these with the title of the special issue in the subject line by the abstract submission deadline of 7th May 2021 to the guest editor team using the details listed.

The Special Issue will be republished at a later date as an edited book collection and, given this, original research articles up to 8000 words are strongly encouraged.

Key Deadlines

Expression of interest abstract deadline: 7th May 2021
Notification of acceptance: 30th May 2021
Manuscript submission deadline: 1st October 2021
Revised manuscript submission deadline: May 2022
Publication: October/November 2022

Special Issue Editors

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.