Globalisation and inequalities in a third world sport context

  • Cora Burnett


The complex reality of the globalization process is explored through analyses of the discourse that since the nineties there has increasingly been debated in the field of sport sociology. Most prominent theoretical perspectives including modernism, post-modernism, broad Marxist traditions and the figurational approach served to explain the manifestations of globalization in a ‘post-colonial' third world context. Global influences are embodied in internationally sponsored projects that were implemented in the late nineties and illustrate the dynamics of first world sports development initiatives in South Africa. Data from different studies and media debates were utilized to substantiate the discussion of local sport-related manifestations relating to the effect of major events (Olympic Games), the media and development initiatives. Micro-level research conducted at the 1999 All Africa Games, in which 273 (62%) South African athletes representing 17 different sport codes completed questionnaires, mediated the experiences, perceptions and social worlds of these national athletes. Local manifestations of globally informed ideology, structures and power relations are discussed against the backdrop of national and political priorities, the context of poverty and hierarchical social structures. The inequalities of South African sporting practices are contextualized as they find expression in the lack of resources, class inequalities, ethnocentric frameworks and political controversies. In search of a national identity, elite sports participation becomes a double-edged sword in challenging and perpetuating socio-cultural realities and creating new inequalities.
Key words: Globalization, third world, inequality, South Africa, athletes.

(Af. J. Physical, Health Education, Recreation and Dance: 2002 8(1): 176-188)

Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 2411-6939