Chaos, trauma and football: an early carer researcher’s reflections on immersion in the field

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


As the Sport for Development and Peace movement grows (SDP; Darnell, Whitley & Massey, 2016), researchers explore and disseminate the culture and impact of specific programmes in an attempt to understand phenomenon and improve practice. In recent decades, this movement has abandoned the deficit-reduction paradigm previously adopted and moved towards personal and psycho-social development (Whitley, Wright & Gould, 2016). This has resulted in many of the hardships of severely disadvantaged individuals being neglected in research in an attempt to develop skills and attributes. Although a plethora of studies cite the benefits attributed to the SDP movement, little is known of suffering still faced by the staff and regular attendees. This paper follows the confessionary tales of an early career researcher’s (ECR) time spent within a SDP programme and the scientism of this new positive approach paradigm. Specifically, a period of 16 ethnographic observations with coaching staff while immersed within a football programme for Glasgow’s most socio-economically disadvantaged. During this time in the field, the ECR encountered tales of homelessness, suicide, drug addiction and stories of change and development. This paper provides personal insight into research reflexivity, mistakes made and reflections on chaotic and traumatic times in the field. Also, discussed is how the ECR’s perception of Glasgow and football’s developmental potential has changed over this period of field immersion. Subsequently, this paper offers an inward looking perspective of this growing SDP movement while generating discussion of the challenges faced. Finally, a number of ethical and methodological considerations for future research are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2018
EventFootball Collective Annual Conference 2018: 'Challenging the Narrative' - Critical thinking in football - Hampden Park, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 29 Nov 201830 Nov 2018 (Conference website.)


ConferenceFootball Collective Annual Conference 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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