Call for Papers | “Politics and policies of austerity and their impact on sport, leisure and public health” | Special issue of International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics

 austerityThe aim of this special issue is to encourage critical discussions about the relationships between austerity driven policy and changes in sport, which can extend to local government or municipality provision, leisure and public health contexts.

Since 2008, the economic downturn has had significant and widespread impacts globally, across Europe and other regions, and within specific countries. Terms such as economic recession, austerity measures, deficit, and structural reforms have dominated media narratives. Whilst European policy makers debate possible solutions to the gradual and deepening financial issues in the continent (Sen, 2015), some national governments have been forced to adopt austerity measures as a way out for their heavily indebted economies. Other countries, such as the United Kingdom (UK), have adopted austerity as a policy of choice.David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the UK at the time, stated that there is a need for “a leaner, more efficient state” in which “we need to do more with less. Not just now, but permanently” (quoted in Krugman, 2015, p.1), ensuring that an age of austerity would continue. Many countries and economies appear now to face a continued period of ‘super austerity’ (Lowndes and Gardner, 2016; Parnell et al., 2016).

Following Blyth’s (2013, p.2) description, austerity is ‘a form of voluntary deflation in which the economy adjusts through the reduction of wages, prices, and public spending to restore competitiveness which is (supposedly) best achieved by cutting the state’s budget, debts, and deficits’. Despite this, some economists argue that austerity is essentially anti-growth, since public expenditure decline contributes to private income reduction and increased unemployment rates. These two factors give rise to particular outcomes of austerity, causing losses on prosperity and leading a substantial segment of the population into poverty (Marmot & Bell, 2009). The challenge against austerity driven policy is given some impetus by a recent International Monetary Fund research report which specifically highlights the (negative) impact of austerity and suggests that neoliberal economic agendas promote inequality and jeopardize durable expansion (Ostry, Loungani and Furceri, 2016).

In these environments of reduced public spending and fiscal consolidation, funding mechanisms for sport also become complex, thus resulting in consequences relative to governance, management, power, and policy-making. However, the results of austerity on sport and leisure are only beginning to emerge although, in the UK, there are some indications that local government provision of sport and leisure has been heavily impacted (Parnell, Millward and Spracklen, 2014).

In this special issue of the International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics we invite articles from a variety of disciplines and different global, regional, national and local contexts. We would also wish to include work that engages in critical examinations of the impact of austerity driven policy on various aspects of sport and related leisure and public health contexts. Papers based on empirical research should be presented within an appropriate conceptual and theoretical framework. If there are sufficient papers of a high standard the guest editors will discuss the possibility of also publishing the collection as a subsequent edited book with Taylor & Francis. The intention is to select 6-8 full papers (between 8,000 and 10,000 words, inclusive of references) that are theoretically and methodologically diverse. Specific reviews or shorter research notes (up to 2,000 words) are also invited.

Although not exhaustive, the topics covered in this special issue could include:

  • Changes in responsibility for sport across local government and the private sector,
  • The role and service needs of volunteers and coaching staff in austerity contexts,
  • Funding for elite sport and impacts on sport policy,
  • National Governing Body strategies to deal with austerity funding,
  • Austerity funding for grassroots sport and its impact on lifelong participation,
  • The state of school sport in austerity contexts,
  • The emergence of social enterprise as a consequence of austerity,
  • Austerity as a potential driver for innovation,
  • Successful and unsuccessful attempts to navigate austerity,
  • The politics of austerity and its impacts on elite sport,
  • The politics of austerity and its impacts on community sport, physical activity, leisure and public health
  • The politics of austerity and sporting mega-events (including legacy),
  • The politics of austerity and the impact on sport organisations across different (public, private or third) sectors.

We invite submissions drawing on range of policy and politics related theoretical and methodological perspectives to advance knowledge and understanding in the field.


Blyth, M. (2013) The History of a Dangerous Idea, Oxford University Press.
Krugman, P. (2015) The austerity drive in Britain isn’t really about debt and deficits at all; it’s all about using deficit panic as an excuse to dismantle social programs, New York Times.
Lowndes, V. and Gardner, A. (2016) Local governance under the Conservatives: super-austerity, devolution and the ‘smarter state’. Local Government Studies. DOI:10.1080/03003930.2016.1150837
Marmot, M., and Bell, R. (2009). How will the financial crisis affect health? British Medical Journal, 338:b1314
Ostry, J.D., Loungani, P., and Furceri, D. (2016) Neoliberalism: Oversold? Finance & Development, 53, 2.
Parnell, D., Millward, P. and Spracklen, K. (2014) Sport and austerity in the UK: an insight into Liverpool 2014, Journal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events, 7, 2, 200-203. DOI: 10.1080/19407963.2014.968309
Parnell, D., Cope, E., Bailey, R. and Widdop, P. (2016). Sport Policy and English Primary Physical Education: The role of professional football clubs in outsourcing. Sport in Society. In Press.
Sen, A. (2015). Amartya Sen: The economic consequences of austerity. New Statesman:

How to submit your paper

  • Deadline for submission of abstracts (max 250 words): Friday 23rd September 2016
  • Confirmation of invitations to submit full papers: Friday 7th October 2016
  • Deadline for submission of full papers: Friday 3rd February 2017
  • All submissions must be sent jointly to: Guest Editor – Dr Daniel Parnell and Co-editor Dr Iain Lindsey
  • All submissions should follow the journal’s Instructions for Authors, and the submission of full papers should be made through the journal’s online submission site

Editorial information

  • Guest Editor: Daniel Parnell, Manchester Metropolitan University (
  • Guest Editor: Peter Millward, Liverpool John Moores University 
  • Guest Editor: Paul Widdop, Leeds Beckett University
  • Guest Editor: Neil King, Edge Hill University 
  • Guest Editor: Anthony May, Coventry University
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