Community sport policy is characterised as complex and multi-faceted partly due to the number of agencies involved. This thesis explores the community sport policy process in England, specifically the significance of the relationship between CSPs and NGBs in the community sport policy process. The four key objectives of this study are (i) to analyse the significance of the relationship between CSPs and NGBs with regard to the national community sport policy process; (ii) to analyse the significance of the relationship between CSPs and NGBs in local-level policy making and policy implementation; (iii) to identify CSP and NGB attitudes and perceptions toward the community sport policy process; and as the study focuses on the meso-level of analysis, (iv) to evaluate the explanatory value of selected meso-level theories of the policy process in developing a better understanding of the community sport policy process.
This study uses a mixed method comprising a questionnaire and semi-structured interviews. Initially, a quantitative questionnaire was used to gather information regarding CSPs and NGBs and support the selection of CSP cases. From this CSP-based case studies were developed involving semi-structured interviews with CSP, NGB and local authority representatives. The study draws attention to the hierarchical nature of the community sport policy process, the implications for collaboration, the mediating role of CSPs in national and local policy settings, and the associated challenges that agents face in implementing community sport policy. The study emphasises the value of theoretical pluralism in analysing the community sport field, particularly the combined used of meso-level frameworks such as the Advocacy Coalition Framework and the Policy Networks Approach with micro-level considerations from implementation theory and the partnership literature. It concludes that empirically, it is only by giving policy agents a voice that we can develop a more accurate understanding of the policy process and that practically only by harnessing the commitment and energy of the grassroots can we step toward a more effective policy community.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.