Research on Sport as a Means of Crime Prevention in a Swedish Welfare Context: A Literature Review

David Ekholm
Linköping University, Sweden

David Ekholm
David Ekholm


This article reviews Swedish research literature on sport as a means to realize social objectives related to crime prevention, contextualized by international literature on the subject. The article examines how Swedish research on sport as a means of crime prevention can be understood in light of international research regarding research questions, theoretical approaches, and content. Utilizing content analysis with inductive category development, the article describes current Swedish and international research, identifies certain characteristics in Swedish research, as well as underlying assumptions. Besides a thorough description acknowledging discrepancies between scientific knowledge in literature and a common sense notion in society about sport as a means of crime prevention, the article highlights five results. First, Swedish research shows great similarities with international research regarding content. Second, previous research is greatly concerned with empirically driven approaches. Third, Swedish research is nonexplicit in terms of crime prevention as a social objective and considers social objectives a potential effect of, rather than a premise for, sport practices. Fourth, Swedish research is focused on primary and secondary prevention. Fifth, there is general lack of Swedish research on sport as a means of crime prevention. In conclusion, the article considers future possible directions in research with respect to characteristics in the traditionally upheld Swedish welfare state regime.

Click here to read this peer reviewed article  in Scandinavian Sport Studies Forum

About the Author

DAVID EKHOLM holds a PhD studentship within social work at Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies. He has previously earned a master’s degree in sociology. Ekholm is currently working on a doctoral thesis on conceptions of sport as a means to prevent social problems. The thesis assumes a constructionist approach, examining how sport and crime are defined in relation to each other, by actors in society, when crime is considered a social problem, and sport a means of crime prevention. Ekholm’s main interests in this respect concerns moral, political and ideological discourses in welfare policy and in social work.

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