Making sense of the lack of evidence discourse, power and knowledge in the field of sport for development

This source preferred by Andrew Adams

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Authors: Adams, A. and Harris, K.

Journal: International Journal of Public Sector Management

Volume: 27

Issue: 2

Pages: 140-151

ISSN: 0951-3558

DOI: 10.1108/IJPSM-06-2013-0082

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore and analyse the power dynamics and vested interest groups that shape the lack of evidence discourse, which is critical of the way evidence is produced within and for the sport for development (SFD) field. This examination recognises that an understanding of the dominant neoliberal context within which SFD is located is critical. Design/methodology/approach: Using a Foucauldian conceptual framework, power, knowledge and discourse relating to political actors in SFD - funders, policy makers, academics and sport development practitioners (SDPs) - are assessed. This paper addresses two key questions: How is the lack of evidence discourse constructed, and what is its impact? And whose interests are served in the interpretation, generation and reporting of evidence? Findings: This paper concludes that although in a Foucauldian sense power surrounding evidence is everywhere, the neo liberal context, which situates SFD, favours the privileging of evidence discourses associated with and derived from funding organisations, political and academic interest groups to the detriment of evidence discourses associated with SDPs. Clearly then there is a major tension concerning knowledge transfer, power and process, and the way that evidence can be used to inform practice. Originality/value: The paper attempts to highlight the power dynamics influencing the way evidence is produced within SFD and that much is needed to move the field forward in a more united approach for what counts as evidence for all political actors. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

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