Sociocultural constraints and the athlete-environment relationship in a form of life

ROTHWELL, Martyn (2021). Sociocultural constraints and the athlete-environment relationship in a form of life. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00423
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    Abstract

    From the theoretical perspective of ecological dynamics, skilful behaviour in performance contexts like sport and education is predicted on the establishment of a functional relationship between an individual and the environment. The strength of this relationship is shaped over time by the everyday values, beliefs, traditions, customs, and behaviours (sociocultural practices) within a specific organisation. A conceptualisation of these sociocultural practices is a form of life, which illustrates the relational and situated nature of the contexts within which skilful behaviour emerges under social, political, cultural, and historical constraints. It is important to identify these influential sociocultural and historical practices that emerge, exist and shape practices in sport cultures and organisations. However, little is known from an ecological realism perspective how these practices affect athlete support systems, pedagogical practices, talent development programmes and an athlete’s engagement with affordances to develop a tightly knit athlete-environment relationship. To provide a deeper understanding of the relationship between a form of life and skilful athlete behaviour this thesis adopts qualitative research designs and integrates ideas from a range of scientific sub-disciplines. More specifically, data from the experiential knowledge of practitioners and observations of practice programmes and contexts in a team sport are analysed through the theoretical tenets of James Gibson’s ecological psychology. In adopting these research methods, the sociocultural practices of a British rugby league football academy are identified and interpreted to understand how they might shape an athlete’s engagement with affordances in learning and development landscapes. Results from the studies of this thesis suggest that forms of life are categorised by the complex interactions between many subsystems, where masculine, and disciplined behaviours were categorised as the dominant sociocultural pressures to constrain key actors into ignoring the potential for athletes’ self-organisation tendencies, and inhibited individuals’ capacities to respond to opportunities in the micro-structure of practice. Finally, to advance our understanding of the practical situations in which athletes become responsive to opportunities for skilful engagement with affordances, an integrative framework is presented to unpack the situated and embedded notions of skilful athlete behaviour.

    Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
    Additional Information: Director of studies: Prof. Keith Davids
    Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
    Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00423
    Depositing User: Colin Knott
    Date Deposited: 21 Jan 2022 15:59
    Last Modified: 21 Jan 2022 16:00
    URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/29639

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