Can sport build peace after conflict? Public attitudes in transitional Northern Ireland

David Mitchell, Ian Somerville, Owen Hargie, Victoria Simms

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
54 Downloads (Pure)


The growth of the Sport for Development and Peace (SDP) movement has provoked considerable scholarly interrogation of the claimed social benefits of sport. However, little is known of public attitudes to the topic. This article reports research carried out in Northern Ireland regarding sport as a means of bringing divided communities together. Respondents viewed sport as effective in breaking down barriers, yet the demographic reach in terms of the participants in sports-based projects was shown to be limited. Qualitative research revealed diverse experiences of the impact of sport. The conclusion highlights the significance of a public attitudes perspective on SDP—it can reveal (a) the degree of public receptivity to SDP, (b) the participating constituencies, and (c) sociopolitical barriers to SDP and wider sporting inclusivity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)464-483
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Sport and Social Issues
Issue number5
Early online date11 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The research was conducted as part a project titled, “Social Exclusion and Sport in Northern Ireland” funded by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (now the Executive Office), Equality Directorate Research Branch.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Northern Ireland
  • Sport for Development and Peace
  • conflict
  • peacebuilding
  • sport
  • Sociology and Political Science


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