This Sporting Life: the antithetical novel's revelation of the organisation and work of sport

Beverly Geesin, Simon Mollan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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The novel This Sporting Life by David Storey is used in this article as fictive, ethnographic data to explore the relationship between sports work, industrial organization, identity, and the management of the body. Drawing upon the work of Pierre Bourdieu on sport, and rugby specifically, and the relationship between sport, the body, class, and rationalization, this paper argues that David Storey provides a vivid, if pessimistic, fictional, and semi-autobiographical account of the ways in which sports, and sports work specifically, is driven by management discourses of rationality and control. We examine how this functions as class exploitation where labour is embodied and expended as a form of bodily capital. Lastly, we offer a critique of the precarious social mobility that sports work promises. Through Storey’s Rugby League playing fictional anti-hero – Art Machin – we explore the central struggle between social structures and individual agency.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)368-382
Number of pages15
JournalCulture and Organization
Issue number5
Early online date20 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2019


  • Sport
  • Rugby League
  • industrial labour
  • class
  • management of the body

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