Vol. 11 2020, pages 43–67
Published June 8, 2020
Public health work and the sport-health ideology: The experiences of public health coordinators on collaborating with volunteer sport organizations
The idea that sport participation is a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle (the sport-health ideology) is one of the most socially pervasive ideas in modern western societies. The sport-health ideology presupposes that there is a linear correlation between sport and health, and that this correlation always is positive. This idea has proven to be persistent in European sport and welfare policies. The following study explores how the sport-health ideology is expressed in the narratives of public health workers in Norway as they discuss collaborative efforts with voluntary sport clubs. The material is derived from 24 interviews with employees in the public health sector at a municipality level in Norway. The analysis demonstrates how collaborations with volunteer sport clubs are perceived as a resource in public health work, particularly when the target groups are children and youth. Furthermore, the material illustrates how the informants talk of sport as something homogenous and health promoting, with potential to contribute to reduced social inequality in health. These narratives show how the connection between sport participation and health is taken for granted, and how the sport-health ideology shapes the perception of volunteer sport clubs as potential public health agents.
About the Author
ANNE TJØNNDAL is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences at Nord University, Bodø – Norway. Her research interests includes studies of social innovation, technology and digitalization, gender and social inclusion in sport. Her work is published in a number of high-quality international journals, including Sociology of Sport Journal, International Review for the Sociology of Sport and European Journal for Sport and Society, among others. Tjønndal is a member of The Young Academy of Norway (AYF).