51st World Congress of Sociology of Sport – Sports, Global Development and Social Change


This week The International Sociology of Sport Association (ISSA) hosted the 51st World Congress of Sociology of Sport at the Hungarian Academy of Science in Budapest, Hungary. The conference spanned over four days, gathering sport sociologists from all over the world to share ideas, discuss research projects and network across national borders and academic institutions. The local organizing comittee and the scientific comittee had gone to great lengths to ensure a conference program of both great academic quality, as well as a fun social program for participants. The venue of the conference, The Hungarian Academy of Science (built in 1825) was a beautiful location to host an academic event such as this. In this blog post, I share my personal experience as a first-time attendee at an ISSA congress.


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The Hungarian Academy of Science


Wednesday, June 8th:

Arrival and registration day. After registrering, the main event of the evening was the Welcome and Award Ceremony. ISSA president Christine Dallaire, members of the local organizing comittee, as well as cheif of international relations at the Hungarian Academy of Science welcomed presenters and conference participants to Budapest. The winner of The Graduate Paper Award 2016 was announced. This years winner was Minhyeok Tak from the University of Otago for his paper, entitled: Too big to jail: Match-fixing, institutional failure and contemporary sports betting.  Honourary mentions were also given to Jonathan Cabot for his paper entitled: The emergence of a new angle in sport media coverage of concussions in the NHL: humanizing the athlete, and to Kamil Reid with a paper entitled: “I’d like to think I’m a good referee”: The subjection of women soccer referees in Ontario through the discourse of ability. After the Award Ceremony the local organizing comittee hosted a welcome reception which gave conference participants a good opportunity to socialize and mingle before Thursday’s scientific sessions.

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Registering at the 51st World Congress of Sociology of Sport


Thursday, June 9th:

I spent my morning attending the paper session on Sports and Gender, Chaired by Elizabeth Pike. Four research projects were presented during this session. Amy Clark from Cantebury Christ Church University (United Kingdom) presented her paper titled. ’You can’t move properly and you have to roll off the toilet because you can’t actually use your thighs, and you have to go down the stairs on your backside … you can’t describe that feeling’: Exploring women’s embodied experiences in fitness cultures. Lotte Stausgaard Skrubbeltrang from Aalborg University (Denmark) presented a research project on ’Reproduction and Opportunity: The Role of Denmark’s SportsClasses. Funda Ackan of Pamukkale University (Turkey) presented a study she is conducting is collaboration with Elizabeth Pike (University of Chichester) on Women Climbers in Turkey and the United Kingdom. In their project, Ackan and Pike takes a critical interactionist approach to understanding the participation and experiences of women climbers. They adopt a cross-cultural analyis of women climbers in Turkey and the United Kingdom. They have collected data through in-depth interviews and participant observation in both countries. The findings Ackan presented at the conference show some of challenges and barriers women climbers face today. The last presenter of the session was Perrine Dupine of Université Paul Sabatier in France, presenting her research on male and female matadors and practices in French matador schools. Dupin argues that the French bullfighting schools and practices are dominated by hybrid masculinities, incorporating both elements associated with traditional norms of masculinity and femininity.

After the morning session it was time for the Keynote speaker. This years speaker was David Black of Dalhousie University Halifax (Canada). Black’s presentation was titled ”Never the Twain Shall Meet? The challenge of articulating top-down and bottom-up development through sport”. Here is Black’s own description (abstract) of his lecture on the topic:

Global development praxis has been characterized by a chronic tension between what can be broadly understood as ‘top down’ versus ‘bottom up’ orientations. These orientations encompass both the actors involved in development thinking and activity, and (more importantly) the underlying values and objectives they seek to advance. Since the start of the new millennium, there has been a sustained effort to transcend and thereby obfuscate this distinction, exemplified by the UN’s adoption of the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals. Compared with other dimensions of development praxis, top down and bottom up manifestations of sport for development have been more closely integrated, practically and imaginatively, than most if not all other domains. There are clear advantages to this relatively close connection between these orientations, but there are also significant limitations and costs, with the logic of ‘bottom up’ development too often effectively subordinated to ‘top down’ assumptions and practices. Scholars of both sport and international development need to better understand why this situation prevails in sport for development, and how a more mature relationship can be built, in which both the distinctive strengths and structural differences of these orientations are acknowledged, and a dynamic built on a healthy measure of critical distance is achieved (David Black, Keynote at ISSA 2016).

The afternoon continued with a roundtable and workshop on the pragmatics and strategies for publishing research on the sociology of sport. The session was facilited by Lawrence Wenner (Loyola Marymount University, United States), the Editor-in-Cheif of the International Review for the Sociology of Sport (IRSS). It was directed at early career scholars and graduate/PhD students. The panel featured scholars from around the world, including Elizabeth Pike (University of Chichester), Steve Jackson (University of Otago); Cora Burnett (University of Johannesburg), Pirkko Markula (University of Alberta); Tien-Chin Tan (National Taiwan Normal University) and Wanderley Marchi Jr. (University Federal do Parana).

For the afternoon  paper session I split between a session on ”Sport, Politics and Policy” and  a session on ”Sports and Social Change”. For the session on sport and politics I listed to Cecilia Stenling and Josef Fahlén’s (Umeå University, Sweden) presentation ”Sport Governance as meaning-making: Concealment, handling and negotiation in Swedish Sport Club Board Rooms”. Their project was an analysis of the execution of sport club governance in Sweden. I also attended Marianne Dortants’ (Utrecht University, The Netherlands) presentation ”The quest for regulated self-regulation of full contact martial arts sports in the Netherlands”. In her study she examines differebnt ways stakeholders act on their beilefs and practices in search for ways of governing full contact martial arts sports.

In the session on sport and social change I heard Peter Donnelly (University of Toronto, Canada) speak on his research on physical culture in The Greater Toronto Area (titled: Social Science and Citizen Science: Crowdsourcing data for research on multiculturalism and physical culture). I was also able to listen to Cora Burnett from the University of Johannesburg (South Africa) speak on power, societal change and mega-sports events. Her presentation, titled ”Can FIFA and the IOC change to authentic human legacy impacts?” critically questions the promises and possiblities of social change in Southeern Africa as a result of the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Youth Development Center project.

 After a long day of many interesting presentations, the final event of the day was the ISSA Annual General Meeting. Here it was announced that next year, the world congress will be held in Taiwan!


May 30th – June 2nd, Save the date!

Friday, June 10th:

Friday was the day of my own presentation. During the morning session, I presented part of my PhD work in a session called ”Sports, Inclusion and Exclusion”. If you wish to read my presentation titled ”Innovation for Social Inclusion in Sport: A Case Study of Skateboard and Gender” click here: ISSA2016.Tjønndal

After my presentation, it was time for my PhD supervisor, Jorid Hovden (Norwegian University of Science and Technology ) to present our study ”The Gendering of coach leadership from an athlete perspective. The case of Norwegian boxing” in a session titled ”Women Leadership in Sport”. In the same session, Mari Kristin Sisjord from the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences presented her study ”Women battling for a space in snowboarding. Fleur Bonnemaison (Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse III, France) presented her paper ”The hiking guides: an egalitarian gender regime?” and Gülay Özen from Hacettepe University Graduate School of Health Sciences in Turkey presented a study of factors influencing women leadership in Turkish sport organizations.


Jorid Hovden (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) and Mari Kristin Sisjord (Norwegian School of Sport Sciences) discussing before their presentations.


In the afternoon I went to the ”Sport and Identity” session. Here, Nakibae Kitiseni (National Taiwan Sport University) gave an inspiring talk on ”The Traditional Popular Game of ‘Ano’ and Tuvalu National Identity”. A sport (and a country) most of the conference participants in the room had not heard of before this session! In the same session, Sunčica Bartoluci, University of Zagreb (Croatia) talked about her work:  ”Survivors in the Water – The Case of the Croatian Water Polo Team at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics”, analysing how sport can become a political tool in times of war and conflict. Bente Ovedie Skogvang from Hedmark University of Applied Sciences (Norway) presented her study of the indigenous festival Riddu Riđđu, on sami nature life and outdoor activities across the globe. Lastly, Moonkyue Shin from Seoul National Universiy (South Korea) presented his project titled ”I am a Footballer: An Ethnographic Study of Footballer’s identity in Lower Division South Korean Football”.



Bente Ovedie Skogvang (Norway) presents her work on Riddu Riddu, outdoor activities and indigenous people.


Saturday and Sunday, June 11th-12th:

After the two last paper sessions of the conference (saturday morning), participants were free to explore the city before the Galla evening. The final night together in Budapest was spent at the Zsófia Boat, enjoying dinner along The Danube river. The perfect way to end a wonderful congress. Sunday it was time to head home to Norway after a memorable week with ISSA in Hungary. This was the first time I’ve been to an ISSA conference, and it will definently not be the last time.



See you in Taiwan next year! (Also, if you submit your abstract and register on time you will recieve a special conference edition of Saucony shoes!)









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