Bourdieu’s practice theory as a multilevel framework for exploring change in disability sport: a case study of disability cricket

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Research question: This paper takes a multilevel perspective by combining meso and micro levels of analysis to examine change within a field of disability sport. What is the impact of policy shifts on the power relations between organizations in a field of disability sport? How does change prompt action at the micro-level of disability sport management?
Research methods: A longitudinal, ethnography of organizations involved in managing disability cricket is conducted during the inaugural implementation of Sport England’s Whole Sport Plans. Semi-structured interviews with 17 managers and participant observations in the form of field notes were the main tools of data collection.
Results and Findings: While the appearance of structural management relations within the field did not appear to change, the underlying power dynamics did. Shifting power relations at the meso-level and the availability of new economic capital to reinforce this power shift, created a series of implications for agents operating at the micro-level, and on the lived experience of disability sport managers.
Implications: Much of the resistance to change that occurred could have been avoided by better communication between agents. Greater effort should be made policymakers to understand the experiences of those who work to develop sport.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)601-617
Number of pages17
JournalManaging Sport and Leisure
Issue number1
Early online date24 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
In 2002, the “Game Plan report” (DCMS/Strategy Unit, ) criticized Sport England for its lack of direction in the funding and an over-involvement in the delivery of sport development. Prior to the implementation of WSP, disability cricket development was mainly funded by Sport England, with funds allocated through the County CCs or directly to cricket clubs and charities. Most of the organizations in this study are registered charities with the (England and Wales) Charity Commission. For years, a perception existed amongst the sport development managers at the County CCs, that it was either Sport England’s or one of the National Cricket Charities responsibility to develop grassroots cricket, their remit was to focus on the development of performance cricket (Interview: SDM South-East CC). However, with the launch of WSP in 2009, the first major change occurred in social practice of funding cricket development. All requests from County CCs, cricket clubs and cricket charities had to be approved by the ECB through the newly imposed “Single Investment Scheme”. This led to some reflections.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Organizational Change
  • Bourdieu
  • Disability Sport
  • Multi-level analysis
  • community sport


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