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Title: Towards a [re]conceptualisation of power in high-performance athletics in the UK
Author: Consterdine, Alexandra
ISNI:       0000 0005 0290 7260
Awarding Body: Manchester Metropolitan University
Current Institution: Manchester Metropolitan University
Date of Award: 2020
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This study seeks to [re]conceptualise the manner in which we have considered and described the coach-athlete relationship(s) in high-performance sport. Using the sporting domain of elite track and field athletics in the United Kingdom (UK), the research focuses on the way power plays a central role, not only among and between coach and athlete, but also the impact that coaching managers, equipment sponsors, athlete agents, and selectors have on the power dynamics evident at this level. Drawing on poststructuralist and postmodern theory and sensibilities, as well as the writings of such as Foucault (1977; 1978; 1980), Richardson (2000a; 2000b), Rose (2000), St. Pierre, (1997; 2000; 2011) and Schostak (2006), this study takes a contemporary and critical perspective to reconsider the ways in which coach-athlete relationships have, up to this point, been both described and portrayed within the literature and the sporting area. This research comes at a time when UK sporting agencies, the press, and other interested groups are struggling to fully comprehend how the contemporary coachathlete relationship(s) operates in the rarefied atmosphere of elite athletics. Stories of physical and emotional abuse, athlete-coach fall out, mental health concerns related to loss of sporting identity, and the pressures inherent in the commodification of the sport performance, have, I contend, at their heart, issues of power. Over 35 interviews with coaches, athletes, Governing Body (GB) staff, and sporting agents and sponsors were engaged with. The data generated from these were examined using the poststructuralist and postmodern writings of those listed above and other critical thinkers who conceptualise power as being fluid, transient and non-possessive, e.g. Elias (1978), Foucault (1977; 1978; 1980), Hargreaves (1986) and Westwood (2002). Findings suggest that the existing models of coach-athlete relationship(s) are both limited and limiting. In portraying the relationship as a simple duality governed mainly by behavioural humanist interactions, these conceptualisations (such as Jowett, 2007; 2009; 2017; Jowett and Cockerill, 2002; 2003; Jowett and Ntoumanis, 2004; Jowett and Shanmugam, 2016) overlook the complex nature of the way power plays out in this rarefied domain; neither do they take account of other power dynamics evident in this sports setting. The significance of this work is that it provides a theoretically and data led critical reconceptualisation of these relationships and, in turn, suggests that to fully understand the nature of these interactions, we must consider new ways in which power operates in these arenas. By offering novel ways of thinking about the reality of these interactions, it may be possible to suggest a more insightful and thoughtful set of ideas, one that allows us to better understand the nature of coach-athlete relationships operating at this level.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available