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

David Mitchell, Ian Somerville, Owen Hargie, Victoria Simms

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Abstract

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)1-20
JournalJournal of Sport and Social Issues
Early online date11 Sep 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Sep 2020

Keywords

  • sport
  • peacebuilding
  • Northern ireland
  • conflict
  • Sport for Development and Peace

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