Ethnographic Perspectives in Sport Science in Germany—Status Quo and Developmental Potentials


  • Jörg Thiele Universität Dortmund



sport science, ethnography, sport sociology, sport pedagogy, strangeness


The question of the significance and importance of ethnographic approaches within the German-speaking sports sciences could briefly be answered with a "negative report", if one is interested in having a look at studies that are explicitly accounted as ethnographic. This estimation changes, if the perspective is widened and the idea of "estrangement of the own culture" (i.e. the sports culture), as one main principle of research interest in sports sciences, is taken as a basis. The vitality of the development, establishment and variation alone of so-called youth cultures (and their interpretations of sports) or even the exclusiveness and extremeness of particular traditional areas in sports (e.g. top-level sport) contain to a substantial extent experiences of foreignness. However, with the areas mentioned a complete naming of items is not intended. In fact, in this context efforts increased in the last few years to understand such "life-worlds", which can be described with the term "life-world ethnography", although the particular authors did not do so themselves. Against this background the article describes the following issues at hand: first, it deals with the explication of a kind of ethnographic self-conception which opens up additional possibilities for sports science, secondly, existing studies in sports science are examined for these possibilities, and finally, the question of potential benefit of a explicit and systematic integration of ethnographic research into sports science is discussed. In the conclusion, the disciplines of sport sociology and sport pedagogy are mentioned. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0301147


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Author Biography

Jörg Thiele, Universität Dortmund

Prof. Dr. Jörg THIELE (1960); Sport Pedagogy/Sport Sociology; research areas: school development research (physical education), high performance sport with children and young people, qualitative research methods in sport sciences, case studies, phenomenology of sport



How to Cite

Thiele, J. (2003). Ethnographic Perspectives in Sport Science in Germany—Status Quo and Developmental Potentials. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 4(1).