Participatory research in sport-for-development: Complexities, experiences and (missed) opportunities

Ramón Spaaij, Nico Schulenkorf, Ruth Jeanes, Sarah Oxford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, the authors examine how participatory research can be conceptualized and fostered in sport-for-development (SfD). The authors offer a conceptualization of participatory research that centers on the interplay between three dimensions: participation, power, and reflexivity. Drawing on variegated experiences with SfD research across different geographical locations, the authors scrutinize the conceptual and empirical linkages between these dimensions, and how these linkages are influenced by structures of authority. Findings suggest that most SfD research falls short with regard to the critical challenge of embracing and delivering high degrees of participation, power shifting, and reflexivity. More specifically, SfD researchers typically fail to relinquish power and control over the research process. The SfD research community would likely benefit from greater inclusivity and collaboration when designing creative ways to improve this state of affairs. The authors conclude by reflecting on the implications and by suggesting ways to promote participatory and activist research in SfD contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-37
Number of pages13
JournalSport Management Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Activist research
  • Participatory research
  • Power
  • Reflexivity
  • Sport-for-development

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