Skip to main content

Reconceptualising sport as a sacred phenomenon

Shilling, Chris, Mellor, Philip A. (2014) Reconceptualising sport as a sacred phenomenon. Sociology of Sport Journal, 31 (3). pp. 349-376. ISSN 0741-1235. (doi:10.1123/ssj.2013-0034) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:38504)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided.
Official URL:


Sociological studies of sport have established their subject matter as significant to a wide range of sociocultural concerns. Despite a broad consensus about its global importance, however, the reasons for the particular, even ‘extraordinary’, societal importance of sport today remain deeply contested. Most studies account for it by highlighting its entanglement within a range of secular phenomena including state building, rationalization, biopolitical regulation, and the ‘controlled-decontrolling’ of bodies and affects. Occupying a more marginal position within the discipline, others focus on the religious or quasi-religious characteristics of sport. Our paper suggests that neither of these positions, on their own, is best placed to capture the nature and implications of sport’s particular centrality to social life. Proposing a new theoretical approach to the subject that places competing conceptions of what we refer to as the ‘sporting sacred’ at the center of discussion, we outline, via a reconceptualization of the writings of two major classical theorists, Durkheim and Weber, a number of contrasting modalities through which sport is prized within contemporary society. These modalities, which embrace both secular and religious phenomena, can, we suggest, provide new insight into the divergent paths along which sports are being ‘pulled’ and steered in the modern era.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1123/ssj.2013-0034
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: Mita Mondal
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2014 11:38 UTC
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2022 10:56 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Shilling, Chris:
  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.