“Sports for All”, but facilities for some: A qualitative study on municipal sports policy

In Swedish

Michael Jestin
The Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences (GIH), Stockholm

Swedish municipality councils’ reasoning within the decision-making process does not seem to accord with the sports policies advocated on a national level. Previous research has shown indications that personal interests play a role in municipal decision-making and that popular belief among both voters and political actors is that the economical benefits of elite sports on the local community is considerably higher than research shows. Both these factors may be explanatory as to why municipal councils choose to disregard national values and policies of sports and the whole advocated concept of “sports for all” that permeates Swedish sports society. The Swedish sports policy has been specified ina draft law (Prop. 2008/09:126) by the government together with the policy program of the Swedish Sports Confederation called Idrotten vill. The municipality councils’ decisions for three sports facilities subsidized by tax money have been qualitatively studied through Fairclough & Fairclough’s model for political reasoning. The assumption was made that each municipality’s core goal is to maximize their control over political office, in accordance with Strom’s theory of political party behavior. The analysis shows that the policies advocated on state level only play a minor role in the decision-making of municipality councils. Values like the town’s appeal to outsiders, stimulation of the market and the prestige of local sports teams are more dominant in the decision-making process. The reasoning behind all three of the newly built facilities goes in the same direction, which indicates that this might be a trend embraced by several Swedish municipalities.

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MICHAEL JESTIN is a political science major from Uppsala University, and a Master’s student at the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, GIH. The main focus for his studies has been the interplay between politics and sports, in regard to public funding and social capital. Complementary to his academic career the Uppsala based 28-year old works as a sports manager for several clubs within Swedish volleyball.

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