International Centre for
Sports Studies

Avenue DuPeyrou 1
2000 Neuchâtel
Tel +41 32 718 39 00


Mon. 13 October 2014

Grant from the Swiss National Fund Division 1 Research

Doing "small society" by leisure activity: An ethnography of community life in proximity sports clubs.

As part of a research grant from the Swiss National Fund Division1 Research, The University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland, School of Social Work & Health Sciences | UAS<ins> EESP | Lausanne</ins> (Professor Dominique Malatesta) and the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) / University of Neuchâtel (Professor Christophe Jaccoud) will lead a three year research project entitled, “Doing ‘small societies’ by leisure activity: An ethnography of community life in proximity sports clubs.


Despite rhetoric that links the rise of individualism, the decline of institutions and the significance of postmodern values, community life is not a dated model. The continuation of such commitments and the part it plays in both the socialization of young people and the development of their social personality, demonstrates that associativity is an essential foundation of public life. This research project will consider the practice of popular pastimes in a sports association as a form of democratic experience.

Crossing institutional analysis with ethnography of associative and community life, this project, which will be conducted in six sports clubs with female members located in the French speaking part of Switzerland, aims to address this postulate. Specifically, the project will be in the tradition of J. Dumazedier’s sociology of leisure and builds on several seminal works by Tocqueville, Weber and Dewey, the theorisation that M. Douglas made on institution, to the neo-institutionalist perspective as well as more contemporary sociological studies on the associative phenomenon in democratic societies.

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