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31 August 2021
Risk, Socio-materiality, and Inequality in Sport, Exercise, and Health
The dominant approach to risk in many exercise, sport, and health related fields (e.g., physical activity epidemiology, sport and exercise psychology) has been a technoscientific one. From a technoscientific approach, risk is understood as the probability and consequence of an adverse event that can be identified, measured, and managed via a range of quantitative methods deemed to capture objective risk ‘truths.’ Socio-culturally oriented sport and exercise scholars have taken an oppositional approach, arguing for the socially constructed nature of ‘risk.’ This approach critiques the mobilization of ‘risk’ as a means of organizing, monitoring, and regulating individuals and populations whilst simultaneously reducing health to individual behaviors and characteristics.
While an emphasis on the social aspects of risk has provided an important counterpoint to a technoscientific approach, it has made less room for examinations of materiality, instead leaving the work of ‘materializing’ risk (i.e., making it visible, comparable, and trackable) to technicians and scientists. Socio-cultural sport, health, and exercise scholars have paid little attention to the material, technoscientific practices of assembling the networks of human and technical (i.e., non- human) entities that constitute movement-related risks, or how materially-sustained relations of risk are maintained, challenged, and/or reassembled across time and space. While novel work is emerging, socio-culturally oriented research has also tended to undertheorize the material (bodily) expression of being more or less exposed to exercise or sport-related hazards (i.e., risks), including how inequalities get ‘under the skin’ and into the flesh (i.e., materialized in health disparities) and/or the bodily experiences of being ‘at risk.’
In this special issue, we seek theoretical, methodological, and empirical qualitative contributions that critically examine the socio-materiality of risk, especially in relation to inequality and social injustice. The goal of this thematic issue is to move beyond a risk dualism whereby the ‘social’ is the domain of socio-cultural scholars and the ‘material’ the realm of scientists. We are seeking novel contributions that are empirically rich, qualitatively informed, and theoretically grounded including those that have not appeared in mainstream qualitative exercise, sport, and health communities. We also invite the voices of traditionally and historically marginalized groups. Possible topics include— but are not limited to—the following as they relate to exercise and/or sport:
- Inequality as an effect of materially-sustained risk networks (e.g., in racialized communities)
- The socio-materiality of risk using Science & Technology Studies (STS) perspectives and methodologies
- Arts-based methodologies to ‘materialize’ risk
- Phenomenology and/of risk
- Risk, embodiment, social justice, and health disparities
- Indigenous methodologies and world views of risk and embodiment
- Risk as a biosocial phenomenon
Looking to Publish your Research?
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- Select the special issue title when submitting your paper to ScholarOne (i.e., "Risk, Socio-materiality, and Inequality in Sport, Exercise, and Health").
- Submissions should be based on research using qualitative methods and/or scholarly dialogue informed by qualitative traditions of inquiry, and should be no longer than 8,000 words, inclusive of references.
- Anticipated publication date is January 2023 with online first available Summer 2022.
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