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date: 15 June 2024


A Dictionary of Sports Studies

Alan Tomlinson

A theoretical framework in sociology that draws upon an organic analogy to explain the role and place of different elements of the overall society and their contribution to the general workings of the society. Also known as structural functionalism, the approach recognizes that just as, say, a limb of the human body is not directly connected to another limb elsewhere in the body, then one part (an institution or a social group) of a society with no direct connection to many other parts of the society can nevertheless be seen as contributing to the overall structural stability of the society; its existence is functional to the workings of the overall structure. In this perspective, sport can be seen as one of society's institutions that serves the overall social order: it can stimulate collective identities and so counter individualism and fragmentation; it can provide expressive outlets for people's leisure and so refresh them for their continuing contribution to work and the economy; it can represent the claimed core values of a society, so strengthening social bonds across the society.... ...

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