Sport’s Moral Contracts: An Analysis of Swedish Sport 1930 to 1950

Pia Lundquist Wanneberg
Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, GIH

This study examines ­moral contracts between Swedish society and Swedish sport from 1930 to 1950. The theoretical basis is social contract theory and the methodological basis is a qualitative text analysis. The source material mainly comprises a selection of clippings from contemporary daily newspapers. The results show that during this period, sport actively negotiated a new moral contract. By aligning itself with two pillars of contemporary society, the Church and the adult education movement, sport gained moral gravitas and emerged as a social and popular movement of consequence. This contributed to sport being given the mandate to play a part in the development of the new democratic welfare state that evolved during this period. But one group of people was excluded from the negotiations over what role sport should play in society: women. One explanation is that the requirement that also women should be a part of what sport represented was not a necessary condition to give it legitimacy.

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PIA LUNDQUIST WANNEBERG is Senior Lecturer at the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, GIH. Her research is mainly in the fields of gender studies and the history of sport. The main question in her doctoral dissertation, Civic Education: Body, Class and Gender in Physical Education 1919–1962 from 2004, was what type of citizens , from a class and gender perspective, physical education aimed to raise in terms of physique and character. The interest for gender issues followed her into the next study, The sexualization of sport: A gender analysis of Swedish elite sport from 1967 to the present day. In a later study she changed focus to the field of disability sport: Disability, Riding and Identity: A Qualitative Study on the Influence of Riding on the Identity Construction of People with Disabilities. Another publication in English is The World Gymnaestrada – a Non-Competitive Event: The Concept ‘Gymnastics for all’ from the Perspective of Ling Gymnastics, a study made together with Jane Meckbach.


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