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Para Athlete Activism: A Critical Disability Studies Perspective

HASLETT, DAMIAN (2021) Para Athlete Activism: A Critical Disability Studies Perspective. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Recently, there have been calls for researchers to focus on social justice issues in sport, such as the experience of athlete activism. While there has been a rise in research focused on athlete activism, little attention has been given specifically to Para athletes as disability activists. The purpose of this research was to provide an in-depth exploration of Para athlete activism: Para athletes as advocates for social change to improve Para sport contexts and/or wider society for disabled people. Underpinned by ontological relativism and epistemological constructionism, this research is framed within a qualitative design and a Critical Disability Studies (CDS) perspective. A CDS perspective means this is research that actively works to re-imagine a politics of disability by drawing on an eclectic range of theories and lines of inquiry. A purposeful sample of participants representing three stakeholder groups – ‘the Para athlete group’, ‘the National Paralympic Committee group’ and ‘the disability activist group’ - were recruited in Ireland. Data were collected through interviews and analysed using a reflective thematic analysis. The analysis first captures Para athletes’ thoughts about factors that prevent or enable social change for disabled people in society. Next, the contemporary landscape of disability activism in Ireland is illumined. Following this, the thesis focuses on styles and strategies that Para athletes use to create social change in Para sport or wider society, as well as contextual challenges involved in creating social change. The next section concerns a critique of Para athlete activism where I use data to problematise the International Paralympic Committee’s new strategy to promote Para athletes as disability activists. The thesis concludes with empirical, theoretical, methodological and practical implications, with an emphasis on how this research contributes to knowledge.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Para sport; Social change;Critical disability studies; Disability activism; Paralympics
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Sport and Exercise Sciences, Department of
Thesis Date:2021
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:24 Mar 2021 10:59

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