Sport and Incarceration: Theoretical Considerations for Sport for Development Research

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Sport and Incarceration: Theoretical Considerations for Sport for Development Research


  • Mark Norman Department of Health, Aging & Society, McMaster University, Canada


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Abstract:  Despite a rapid expansion in research on Sport for Development (SfD), there remain numerous untapped veins of exploration. This article makes a novel argument for increasing the theoretical and substantive depth of SfD research by linking it to the relatively small, yet developing, body of literature on sport and incarceration. Drawing from the emergent field of carceral geography and the literature on prison sport, this article provides critical theoretical considerations for SfD programs that occur in ‘compact’ sites of confinement, such as prisons or refugee camps, or are enmeshed in ‘diffuse’ manifestations of carcerality. Given the structures of inequality that have led to the confinement of more than 13 million people in prisons, refugee camps, and migrant detention centres across the globe, as well as the multitude of ways that groups and individuals are criminalized and stigmatized in community settings, there are compelling reasons for SfD research to more deeply engage with concerns of space and carcerality as they relate to sport. As such, this article provides an important foundation for future analyses of SfD and carcerality, and signposts some potential ways forward for a deepening of theoretical perspectives in SfD research.

Keywords:  carceral geography; incarceration; prison sport; space; sport for development

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v8i3.2748


© Mark Norman. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.