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The professionalisation of sports coaching: relations of power, resistance and compliance

Taylor, Bill and Garratt, Dean (2010) The professionalisation of sports coaching: relations of power, resistance and compliance. education and society, 15 (1). pp. 121-139. ISSN 1470-1243

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Abstract

This paper examines the changing landscape of the professionalisation of sports coaching and is presented in response to the dearth of empirical research and peer-reviewed literature existing within the field. This absence or 'lack' has, in turn, created a political context in which the discourses that inhabit transitions towards professionalism are becoming increasingly rigid and inflexible. Policies too, have exacerbated this situation, creating imposed reforms that have sought to homogenise coaching practice and further gloss over cultural difference and diversity. While volunteerism is often regarded as a socially embedded activity, and one that is part of the UK's long-established coaching tradition, still there remains an ambition to transform coaching into a form of certified, professionalised activity. That is, a notion of professionalism with clearly benchmarked standards, novel forms of commercial engagement and ever-present systems of formal accreditation. Out of which has evolved a series of treatments prescribing somewhat standardised solutions to otherwise unique and individualised professional challenges. Against this backdrop, this paper adopts a more critical orientation towards the debate on the professionalisation of sports coaching. It examines the tensions, power and resistance that are manifested in practice across different areas of sport, and moves to understand some of the key differences emerging between contemporary reforms, situated practice and socially embedded coaching traditions. Drawing extensively on Bourdieurian and Foucauldian philosophy, the analysis reflects upon the experiences of coaches and stakeholders operating at the levels of voluntary and community-based practice in the north-west of England. It examines notions of resistance and compliance in situ, external factors and policies that have impacted the field, and analyses the complexities that inhabit the profession of sports coaching as a whole.

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