Organisations, practices, actors, and events: Exploring inside the distance running social world
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Journal: International Review for the Sociology of Sport
This paper revisits Unruh's notions of social worlds, exploring the organisations, practices, events and actors involved within the culture of distance running, as an increasingly popular leisure activity. An ethnographic research design was utilised using a combination of interviews, observation and participant observation. Data was collected over a two-year period on a weekly basis at two local distance running clubs, and also at a series of international distance running events. This study examines the distance running world from the "emic" perspective of the twenty participants involved. The key findings illustrate how the distance running social world permits both development and confirmation of a running identity and, with it, social fulfilment. In addition to the four main components of a distance running social world, this paper highlights a paradox whereby individuals follow an individual pursuit within the social world of the distance running community - highlighting that the focus is on both the individual and the social, an area which sociologists have to date not extensively analysed within the context of sport. © The Author(s) 2012.