Who’s in charge? Sport policies in Swedish municipalities 1985–2017 – a case study of Stockholm city

In Swedish

Paul Sjöblom
The Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences


The aim of this study is to analyse the distribution of public sport resources throughout time on the local level – and its consequences. In focus is the concept of governance, namely the stakeholder’s capacity to affect to such extent that long-term effects are achieved. The method used is a case study of Stockholm city, the capital municipality in Sweden, where the material consists of meeting minutes and decision protocols from the public sports authority, contemporary literature and recorded and transcribed interviews with representatives of politics and public administration. The analytical approach starts within historical and political science-theories and research on governing. Three forms of governing are scrutinized: hierarchic governing, discursive governing and interactive governing. The investigated period is 1985-2017. It is a period with significant upheavals in the Swedish society, especially regarding the development of sports and public administration. The survey of the governing forms and practices indicates, that a lot of different types have been used for a long time working parallel as a complement to each other rather than succeeding (replacing) each other. Primary results regarding the accomplished sport politics, are in the first place that the allowance of public funds to sports has increased during the 2000s. Secondly that the resources are mainly distributed in mainly the same ways (channels) as before and that there are mainly the same physical activities, organizations and social groups as previously which are favoured – while others in comparison are disadvantaged. This is a fact in spite of that the politicians since quite a long time are fully aware of which groups have been neglected when it comes to physical activities, what kind of new desires citizens have today, and that there are many new initiatives time and again to bring about a change. The conclusion reads that the structural elements economy, tradition and culture have influenced the shaping of sports policy after 1985 more than individual stakeholders and their articulated interests and expressed values.

Click here to read this peer reviewed article in Swedish, in Scandinavian Sport Studies Forum Vol. 10, 2019

PAUL SJÖBLOM is an Associate Professor and senior lecturer in sport sciences at The Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, Stockholm. His research is in the fields of sport policy and governance, especially within municipalities, as well as sporting environments and sports cultures, especially concerning sporting grounds and sports clubs. Sjöblom has in his publications mainly focused on organizations (and the individuals acting in them), where he has studied the organizational and operational principles and their development over time in particular. It has been about describing, analyzing and trying to explain norms, values and connected behaviors and activities. Sjöblom has recently written the first chapter in a new Swedish introductory textbook to sport management, he has co-edited a report for The Swedish Sports Confederation on social benefits of sport, and he has guest edited a special issue about “The Swedish sports model” in the peer reviewed yearbook of the   association of Swedish sport historians.

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