Contingent intellectual amateurism, or, the problem with evidence-based research

Michael L Silk, Anthony J Bush, David L Andrews

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (SciVal)


Given the amalgam of neo-liberal, neo-scientist and neo-conservative forces that frame higher education - safeguarding science and medicine at the expense of arts, humanities and the social sciences - the very existence and continuance of the sociology of sport is imperiled perhaps more than ever. In this moment, and not surprisingly, the epistemological corroborator of these forces is once again championed; there has been an aggressive push towards 'science' defined by evidence based programmes, policies and practices (EBR) as the sole and legitimate avenue for academic survival. Heralded as the 'gold' standard of academic research, and forged through university-industry-government partnerships, the evidence based research mantra emphasizes a shift towards corporate principles of efficiency, accountability and profit maximization. As such, within this paper, we discuss the creeping EBR-based epistemological orthodoxy that is seeping into the critical sociological study of sport, arguing that it threatens to neuter the political and critical potentialities of our field. We propose that pandering to EBR, compromises everything that critical sporting intellectuals strive for and believe in; it is a powerful virus of sorts that speaks against our ontological, axiological, epistemological, methodological and political approaches and offers nothing but collusion with, and explicit support for, existing regimes of power.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-128
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Sport and Social Issues
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010


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