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Sport and Physical Activity in Social Exclusion Policy

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Published: Tue, 14 Aug 2018

Critically assess the contribution that sport and physical activity can make in meeting social policy objectives around social exclusion

 

Introduction

This report seeks to assess the contribution that sport, along with physical activity can make in contributing to and meeting social policy objectives with regard to social exclusion. The preceding represents an interesting as well as complex discussion in that it weaves a number of important terms into its framework. The first of these terms that will be explored is social policy, as this forms the foundational platform. Social policy, as noted by Alcock et al[1] is a difficult concept to define. They state that it, social policy, represents “… an academic field of study is one of those curious items, rather like an elephant, which we recognise when we see it, but is notoriously difficult to describe”[2]. Considine[3], in furthering Alcock et al’s[4] statement, adds, “… policy is a deceptively simple term which conceals some very complex activities”. Given the preceding, a more defined explanation of social policy shall be approached later in this examination.

This report shall seek to accomplish its objective through a review of varied materials and sources to equate the foundational facets for the initiative, and where it is in today’s terms in achieving its ends.

Context

As brought forth in the Introduction segment of this report, various utilised herein terms represent areas needing further defining. Social policy represents one of these, which Coffey[5] advises there are three ways of attempting to definition it as the concept is subject to constant revision. This approach is also taken by Considine[6], who states that these three areas represent“… when governments simply make some public announcement on homelessness, or the need to protect vulnerable children from abuse …” thus making a policy statement. He adds that the word policy is used “… when public officials commit public resources to a program”, thus meaning that the allocation of money with regard to spending on health and welfare is called a policy. In proceeding with her explanation of social policy Coffey[7] first starts that “… social policy has conventionally been used as a term to denote a set of policies and practices concerned with promoting social welfare and well being. The preceding definition has applicability with regard to the context of this examination, as it, the preceding definition, is usually “… associated with the provision of social welfare through institutions of the State”[8]. In offering the preceding definition, Coffey[9] cautions us that the expanded role of social welfare has given rise to the fact that social policies can in fact “… be made, enacted and implemented within and outside the auspices of the State”.

In continuing to the second definition of social policy, Coffee[10] tells us that it builds upon the foregoing understanding, recognizing “… social policy as a distinctive field of study”. In aiding our understanding, Coffee[11] states that conventionally, the study of social policy has been centred on the “… Welfare State and its main social services …” as represented by housing, health, social security, education, and personal social services. The preceding areas are limited in that the foregoing does not open the sphere to the many applications of social policy in its modern context. In illustrating this, Coffee[12] advises us that in the broadest sense, social policy can be thought of as incorporating all governmental policy that has a social dimension. The third and last of Coffee’s[13] definition advises that social policy is “… a distinctive academic discipline – not only with a (re) defined subject matter and empirical agenda, but also with its own theoretical and conceptual frameworks”. The significance of delving into the context and nuances of social policy has been engaged in as it represents a foundational facet of this examination, and as such, it is a fluid area that shifts and changes based upon the social context of the day.

Social inclusion, as the other key phrase in this study is discussed by Abery[14] as also being a term that lacks a clear definition. The reason for the problem in establishing a clear-cut definition is that there are no definitive guidelines for a determination of the degree, context and or type pf what determines the amount of social interaction that is necessary for a person to feel included as a part of a community, thus, defining the level for social exclusion, and therefore inclusion remains somewhat ambiguous. In a book written by Atkinson et al[15] titled “ Social Indicators: The EU and Social Inclusion”, they point to indicators as developed by the European Union as guidelines and yardsticks for social inclusion, as a result of the aforementioned ambiguity of the term. Abery[16] aids us in understanding that since social exclusion represents a perceived factor that can take in age, race, cultural background, as well as peer groups and other defining facets, social inclusion is also guided by the same processes. It, social inclusion, is a perception in some regards that has backing from definitive factors, thus its status as a program with the European Union as a result of the social diversity in its member countries[17].

Social Inclusion, the Foundations and Approaches

Social exclusion was addressed in the writings of Walker and Walker[18], which chronicled the growing financial, diversity and social divides that were impacting the UK as a result of immigration, and parts of the indigenous population as the spread between demographic groups, the lower end, and the middle and upper middle class, continually widened. The factual foundation for this divide, is that the United Kingdom has almost double the amount of households classified as poor than Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Holland, or Italy, with an unemployment rate in the late 1990s that approximately one fourth of all males[19]. Thus, as Collins and Kay[20] report, poverty represents a foundational facet of exclusion, thereby representing a core facet that needed addressing as part of governmental efforts to include less fortunate groups.

In the United Kingdom, the Social Exclusion Unit[21] in a report to the Prime Minister put forth objectives and potential solutions to the problems of the development of a means as to how to “…develop integrated and sustainable approaches to the problems of the worst housing estates, including crime, drugs, unemployment, community breakdown, and bad schools etc”. The report also stated that “Social exclusion is a shorthand term for what can happen when people or areas suffer from a combination of linked problems such as unemployment, poor skills, low incomes, poor housing, high crime, bad health and family breakdown[22]. The initiative involving social inclusion in the United Kingdom emanated from the Lisbon Summit[23], whereby the member states of the European Union were committed to proceeed with the promotion of social cohesion, along with inclusion, as a what they termed as a strategic goal.

One of the areas that Collins and Kay[24] identified as a means to combat social exclusion was sport. They cited the works of Goodale and Witt[25] that uncovered that there were barriers that people in lower income groups faced in partaking in recreational activities. However, income was not found to be the only factor, as other constraints as represented by appearance, social and physical factors were also identified as being facets that contributed to exclusion by what were termed as gatekeepers such as facility managers, sports development officers, coaches, teachers, and or club officers “…who select who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’ of groups, and society’s representatives who label people as ‘different”[26]. The impact and range of the preceding is brought forward in a study conducted by Harland et al[27] they chronicled the constraints as well as exclusionary aspects in sport and leisure activities in the UK, as shown by the following:

Table 1 – U.K. Constraints and Exclusion Charts for

Sport and Leisure Activities in the United Kingdom[28]

Group excluded

Youth

Poor/ unemployed

Women

Older people

Ethnic minority

People with disability/ learn difficulty

   

child

young people

young delinquent

           

Structural factors

               

Poor physical/social environment

+

+

++

++

+

+

++

+

Poor facilities/ community capacity

+

+

++

++

+

+

+

++

Poor support network

+

+

++

++

+

+

+

++

Poor transport

++

++

++

++

++

++

+

+++

Mediating factors

               

Managers’ policies/ attitudes

+

+

++

++

+

+

++

++

Labelling by society

+

++

+++

+

+

+

+++

++

Personal factors

               

Lack of time structure

+

+

++

+++

 

+

 

+

Lack of income

+

+

++

+++

+

++

++

++

Lack of skills/personal social capital

+

+

+++

+++

+

+

++

++

Fears over safety

++

++

++

++

+++

+++

++

++

Powerlessness

++

++

+++

+++

++

++

+++

++

Poor self/body image

+

+

++

++

+

+

++

++

Note: The number of +s represent the severity of particular constraints for particular groups

               
                 

The preceding reveals that poverty does add an extra dimension, intensity, to the other factors as it locks people in through the accentuation of “…their feeling that they are not autonomous agents, capable of bringing change to their lives”[29]. In a report as conducted by Driver and Bruns[30] 105 differing benefits were listed that accrued to individuals for participation in sports. In many instances, the benefits enhanced the community as well. The preceding findings led to the development of a report that was made by Sport England, in collaboration with the Local Government Association that looked at the value of sport participation:

Table 2 – The Benefits of Sports Participation[31]

Form of benefit

PRFO reviewa

HC reviewb

SpE reviewc

LGA reviewd

Personal

       

1 Aiding a full/meaningful life

*

*

*

 

2 Ensuring health

*

 

*

*

3 Helping stress management

*

 

*

*

4 Giving self-esteem/image

*

*

 

*

5 Offering balance/achievement/ life satisfaction

*

 

*

 

6 Play and human development

*

*

   

7 Positive lifestyle choices

*

*

   

8 Open spaces and quality of life

*

     

9 Better academic performance

   

*

*

Social

       

1 Strengthening communities

*

*

*

*

2 Reducing alienation/loneliness/ antisocial behaviour

*

*

*

*

3 Promoting ethnic/cultural harmony

*

*

*

 

4 Strengthening families

*

*

   

5 Community involvement/ownership/ empowerment

*

*

*

*

6 Access for disabled/disadvantaged

*

 

*

 

7 Promoting community pride

*

*

 

*

8 Protection for latch-key children

*

     

9 Ethical behaviour models (cheating/ drugs/violence)

 

*

   

Economic

       

1 Cost-effective health prevention

*

 

*

*

2 Fitness for productive workforces

*

*

   

3 Small sums/large economic returns

*

     

4 Attracting new/growing businesses

*

     

5 Reducing cost of vandalism/crime

*

*

   

6 Catalyst for tourism

*

     

7 Funding environmental protection

*

*

   

8 Regeneration of jobs/communities

 

*

*

 

Environmental

       

1 Aiding environmental health

*

 

*

 

2 Protecting/rehabilitating environments

*

*

*

 

3 Increasing property values

*

     

4 Ensuring a sustainable environment

*

*

   

National

       

1 Integration/cultural cohesion

 

*

   

2 Pride

*

*

   

3 Trade balance/marketing

*

     

4 International influence/representation

 

*

   

NOTE: “a” stands for Parks and Recreation Federation of Ontario (PRFO), “b” represents the Hillary Commission (HC), “c” stands for Sport England (SpE), and “d” represents Local Government Association (LGA).

In taking the foregoing and soliciting the views of the staffs of local authorities in the United Kingdom, Long and Sanderson[32] surveyed leisure officers as well as departments, and found the following:

Table 3 – Potential Benefits of Sport as Perceived by Local Authority Staff

(Percentage Citing as very important) [33]

 

Leisure departments

(%) Leisure centre managers/ Sports development officers (%)

Personal development

   

Improving self-esteem and self-confidence

96

91

Cohesion and social benefits

   

Improving community identity and cohesion

66

53

Improving the health of the community

66

59

Diverting young people from crime and vandalism

57

53

Empowerment and capacity

   

Empowering disadvantaged groups

51

19

Improving the capacity of the community to take initiatives

40

16

Economic benefits

   

Improving young people’s prospects of employment

23

16

Developing local enterprise around sports activities

17

13

The inequalities in sport participation were brought forth in a study conducted by Sport England[34] to bring forth the facets of social exclusion, highlighting social disadvantage, gender, disability, and ethnicity, looking into the equity policies as well as programmes for twelve sport zones. The study, along with the other studies and reports referred to, reveal that sport inclusion for lower income as well as minority groups is limited overall, indicating what Collins and Kay[35] term as an “… economic gradient in sport and leisure”.

Table 4 – Inequalities in Participation in Sport by Social Class.

Conducted from the 1960s to the 1990s[36]

 

Visiting sport and leisure centres (%)

Any sport in last four weeks (%)

   

1960s

1990s

1987

1996

 

A (professional)

20

40

65

63

B (managerial)

52

52

52

 

C1 (junior non-manual)

44

33

45

47

C2 (skilled manual)

27

20

48

45

D (semi-skilled manual)

7

8

34

37

E (unskilled manual)

26

23

   

Total

   

45

46

Difference between professional and unskilled

13

32

40

40

         

The foregoing examples and information has been utilised to provide a clear framework of understanding that social exclusion has many veneers, of which unemployment, income, ethnicity, disability, along with being a single parent are its faces. Thus in looking into the subject of social inclusion, and policy objectives these broad factors must be considered.

Discussion and Analysis

Coalter[37] tells us that from an organisational context, the United Kingdom has a history of strong voluntary associations and social capital invested and utilised in sport. As an entertainment medium, sport has long been known as a vehicle that initiates and fosters social change, as evidenced by the participation of minorities in sports that that have been long associated, as well as new sporting areas whereby they are paving new participation grounds, such as golf, with Tiger Woods, motor sports, with Lewis Hamilton, and tennis, with the Williams sisters.

The previous segments of this report have brought forth past circumstantial facets that are important underpinnings and information base foundations from which to understand the nuances of social exclusion and sport in the United Kingdom. That foundation represents an important facet in the understanding of the economic as well as political aspects that underpin sport policy. The PAT 10[38] advises that sport participation has beneficial aspects in terms of social impact. The report stated that the use of sport in community settings can encourage the building and maintaining of strong community groups, build confidence, contribute to neighborhood renewal as well as improve health, reduce crime, aid in employment, and bring benefits in higher grades[39].

The foregoing is claimed by the Policy Action Team[40] as resulting due to “…its wide popularity and inherent properties, sport can contribute to neighbourhood renewal by improving communities performance …” citing the prior four key indicators (health, crime, employment and education). The findings of the PAT 10[41] report found that the preceding four areas are impacted positively in deprived communities as a result of 1. the appeal of sports to the interests of individuals in the development of their self confidence and potential, 2. providing a foundation for community identity through collective effort, 3. the building of positive links to the broader community, and 4. is associated with industries that are experiencing rapid growth. The issues that need to be overcome in the establishment of sporting and recreational activities are 1. projects that have been tailored to policy and programme criteria rather than the needs of the community, 2. projects and or programmes that are created with perspectives that are short term, 3. the promotion of sports as well as arts in communities whereby they are seen as being peripheral as opposed to being involved in the cultural and needs of the programmes conducted, 4. the need for studies and relevant information concerning the impact of sporting activities and the arts, and 5. the poor connective links between sporting bodies, local authorities, and schools grades[42].

The PAT 10[43] report listed the following areas are being important in the exploitation of sports as a process in communities that contribute to regeneration, 1. diversity needs to be valued, 2. local communities need more control, 3. equitable partnership need to be developed. 4. the defining of objectives that are aligned with community needs, 5. sustainability in programme development, 6. ensuring quality and equality across all spectrums, and 6. setting the programmes for a connection to mainstream sporting activities. The report advised that sports are an activity that people can consume, meaning as spectators and as participants, thus involving the players as well as their friends, family and community to create a binding effect when utilised proactively (Policy Action Team, 1999)[44]. The key glue is participation and involvement that takes in the policy side, meaning planners and staff, as well as the community side.

In order to make the lofty objective work as identified in the PAT 10 report[45], the government sought the input of the Strategy Unit as well as the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to provide workable recommendations concerning a long term policy for sport that took in the preceding foundational facets as identified by the PAT 10 report. The objective of the preceding was to uncover ways in which to improve the delivery of governmental support, which resulted in four key recommendations. The first of these was to create and enhance Grass Roots Participation, along with initiatives needed to overcome the barriers to more active involvement, with the focus of the preceding aimed at young people, economically disadvantaged, older age groups as well as women[46]. The second area was termed as High Performance Sport, which called for the prioritization of which sports would be funded in what percentages, including talent development and funding streams that focused on better delivery to communities and people[47]. Mega Sporting Events were ide


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