Contrasting approaches to social justice in sport

Lusted, Jim (2024). Contrasting approaches to social justice in sport. In: Lawrence, Stefan; Hill, Joanne and Mowatt, Rasul eds. Routledge Handbook of Sport, Leisure, and Social Justice. London: Routledge, pp. 18–32.



This chapter seeks to critically examine the concept of social justice which is often used ambiguously in sport research. It begins by surveying traditional theoretical perspectives on social justice, including the works of Rawls, Von Hayek, and Nozick, and explores how these approaches can relate to the study of inequalities in sport. Next, the chapter situates Nancy Fraser’s integrated approach to social justice within this theoretical landscape, highlighting its potential to not only explain but also transform society and the realm of sport. Fraser’s approach, characterised by a three-level framework encompassing economic redistribution, cultural recognition, and political participation, is examined in depth. This framework is then applied to the context of sport policy, which has often been criticised for its limited impact in promoting social justice and addressing social inequalities. The chapter argues that contemporary sports policies can achieve greater effectiveness in pursuing social justice goals.

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