Exposing the dark side, an exploration of the influence social capital has upon parental sports volunteers

Colin Grant Whittaker*, David Holland-Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


This study explored the influence social capital had over parental sports volunteers who are considered to be of paramount importance in the delivery of UK sports initiatives. A review of the relevant literature identifies and discusses the complexities within the debate to define social capital while human and cultural capital emerge as an essential element in the production of parental volunteers’ ability to access opportunities through a process of bonding or bridging social networks. This study used a grounded research focused on the use of semi-structured interviews and research diaries with (n = 8) study participants. The results from this study, which were analysed through a Bourdieuan perspective, suggested the process that recruits parental volunteers is exclusive; furthermore, the results show the insidious presences of the dark side of social capital, which affected the respondents by reinforcing exclusive ties and identities, which was found to exclude outsiders while reproducing a dominant social hierarchy. The paper concludes by considering the implications of the study for future practical and academic applications of social capital production within sports volunteerism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356-373
Number of pages18
JournalSport, Education and Society
Issue number3
Early online date16 Jun 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2016


  • Sport
  • Volunteerism
  • Social capital
  • Bourdieu
  • Community
  • Policy


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