Sporting intervention and social change: football, marginalised youth and citizenship development

A, Parker, Haydn Morgan, S Farooq, Ben Moreland, A Pitchford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (SciVal)


Numerous sport-based interventions exist which target marginalised or ‘at-risk’ young people with the intention of enabling some form of social change for programme participants. Very often, the objective of such interventions is the acquisition and development of qualities associated with ‘good citizenship’. However, critical scholars have noted how sport-based initiatives are frequently used as a form of social control, focusing on the development of personal responsibility. As such, these initiatives accentuate more passive forms of citizenship, as opposed to more active forms of citizenship towards which many educational policies and programmes are aimed. Nevertheless, there is a limited amount literature which explores the connection between sport-based interventions and citizenship development within marginalised or ‘at-risk’ youth populations. This paper presents findings from a small-scale, qualitative study of one such (football-based) intervention located in a number of inner-city boroughs of London, UK. Placing the accounts of programme participants and staff at the centre of the analysis, the paper: (i) uncovers the practicalities and nuances of football being utilised as a tool for social engagement, and (ii) explores broader notions of personal and behavioural development in relation to the acquisition of citizenship qualities. The paper concludes by suggesting that sporting activity may confer citizenship benefits for young people, but only when integrated into wider programmes of social support and community engagement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-310
Number of pages13
JournalSport, Education and Society
Issue number3
Early online date20 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2019


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