1. Building Social Capital through Sport-Based Programs: A Critical Investigation into the experiences of Youth from
Research Question: To what extent does London Premier League Kicks allow urban youth to create and convert different forms of social capital in the broader society?
Sport as a vehicle for social mobility:
This research study will critically examine sport as a vehicle to improve urban youth’s social mobility. Youth from urban neighbourhoods throughout their adolescence face vulnerability to: gang involvement, school
exclusion, and unemployment. Sport-based programs are widely advocated by policy makers to enhance academic performance, improve health, and reduce crime and anti-social behaviour (Giulianotti, 2011). With
the widespread assumption that disadvantaged communities “inevitably produce deficit people” (Coalter, 2013, p.3), the promise of these societal outcomes through sport is believed to enhance urban youth’s social
mobility. In 2014, The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime and The Premier League invested £1 million into London Premier League Kicks - a sport-based program using football to steer London youth away from
crime and gang involvement and into education and employment. The program is delivered by twelve London Professional Football Clubs (including Chelsea FC, 2015), who provide free organised football sessions
in twenty police priority boroughs for youth of 12-18 years of age.
Sport and Social Capital:
Social capital will be used to theorise sport as a vehicle for social mobility. Putnam’s (2000) notion of social capital focuses on the benefits social networks has on individuals and their communities. Putnam divided
social capital into two different forms – bonding and bridging capital. Bonding capital refers to maintaining already established close ties with similar people in one’s social group, who typically produce resources to
help individuals ‘get by’. Bridging capital is the process of an individual getting to know different people they are loosely tied with to ‘get ahead’. Linking capital, a third form of social capital by Woolcock (2001),
involves individuals reaching out to people in dissimilar social stratifications and accumulating a greater range of resources than the ones available within one’s community. Studying sport and social capital allows the
researcher to understand the different social networks youth individually developed within the London Premier League Kicks program to mobilise into different areas of society. Spaaij’s (2011) and Walseth’s (2008)
study on sport and social capital found sport-based programs were suitable environments for bonding and bridging social capital between different ethnic backgrounds; however, such programs were particularly
weak in producing bridging social capital which is sustainable. This study will map the different experiences of the youth in the program to understand the different forms of social capital they acquired to ‘get by’ or
‘get ahead’ in life.
How will this research study be conducted?
Semi-structured interviews will be conducted with London youth aged over 16 who were involved with the program. This popular qualitative research method will allow the youth interviewed to provide in-depth
knowledge their personal experiences of how they believe participating the sport-based program has given them useful resources to integrate into society (Markula and Silk, 2011). Recent empirical studies on sport
and social capital have utilised semi-structured interviews to reveal the participant’s life history and the different forms of capital they obtained from participating in sport-based programs (Clark and Burnett, 2010).The
use of open-ended questions allows the researcher to analyse the subjective meanings and values the youth give to their lived experiences within the program.
Chelsea FC., 2015. Kicks project to continue [Online]. Available from: http://www.chelseafc.com/news/latest-news/2015/01/kicks-project-to-continue.html [Accessed 11 November 2016]. London: Chelsea FC.
Clark, C. and Burnett, C., 2010. Upward social mobility through women’s soccer. African Journal for Physical, Health Education, Recreation and Dance (AJPHERD),16(4), pp.141-154.
Coalter, F., 2013. Sport for Development: What game are we playing? Oxon: Routledge.
Markula, P. and Silk, M., 2011. Qualitative research for physical culture. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Putman, R.D., 2000. Bowling alone. The collapse and revival of American community. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Spaij, R., 2011. Beyond the playing field: Experiences of sport, social capital, and integration among Somalis in Australia. Ethnic and Racial Studies. 35(9), pp.1519-1538.
Walseth, K., 2008. Bridging and bonding social capital in sport-experiences of young women with an immigrant background. Sport, Education and Society. 13(1), pp.1-17.
Woolcock, M., 2001. The Place of Social Capital in Understanding Social and Economic Outcomes. Isuma The Canadian Journal of Policy Research, 2, pp.1–17.
Keon Richardson 2016/2017 Department of Health firstname.lastname@example.org