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Article

Social capital networks in sports spectatorship and participation

International Review for the Sociology of Sport. 2021. Vol. 56. No. 4. P. 514-536.

The relationship between social capital and sport has been an increasing focus of scholarly literature in recent decades. However, very few of these studies consider social capital alongside theories of cultural consumption. Even fewer seek to assess the place of social capital in sports spectatorship. Taking primarily a Bourdieusian and neo-Bourdieusian theoretical approach, this study seeks to rectify these gaps by analysing three key components of social capital – social network size, social network prestige and social network variety – and how they relate to patterns of sports spectatorship and participation. Results indicate that the type of social capital that is most predictive seems to rely heavily upon the nature of the cleavages between cultural patterns of sports engagement. While the size of social network seems most universally applicable to predict sports engagement generally, network variety also seems to be highly applicable to the most omnivorous engagement profiles. Finally, network prestige appears applicable to some highbrow profiles of sports engagement.