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Title: Exploring the role of social capital in community-based physical activity: qualitative insights from parkrun
Authors: Wiltshire, Gareth
Stevinson, Clare
Keywords: Social capital
Physical activity
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: © Taylor & Francis
Citation: WILTSHIRE, G. and STEVINSON, C., 2018. Exploring the role of social capital in community-based physical activity: qualitative insights from parkrun. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 10(1), pp. 47-62.
Abstract: © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group There is a need to address social inequalities related to health and physical activity. Taking a practice-led approach to intervention research, this paper uses the case of parkrun – a rapidly growing weekly running initiative – to explore the potential of free, community-based opportunities to improve physical activity in low socio-economic groups. Our approach departs from individualistic behavioural research and draws on the concept of social capital in order to add to the sociological understanding of physical (in)activity. Interviews were carried out with previously inactive parkrun participants and were analysed thematically through the lens of social capital. Our analysis illustrates how: (1) participants often draw on existing social ties (family, friends, neighbours and colleagues) to initiate their participation in parkrun, (2) participants invest in and benefit from the aggregate labour of the wider parkrun community (their network of social relations) and therefore are privy to significant practical and affective support and (3) participants utilise acquired social capital to accumulate cultural capital related to injury management, performance and health. These findings add qualitative insight into existing literature highlighting social capital as a key resource in the initiation and maintenance of physical activity. In the ongoing effort to provide viable physical activity opportunities for low socio-economic groups, we optimistically argue that volunteer-led, community-based initiatives have the capacity to mobilise resource through social networks. However, in the context of persistent socio-economic inequalities, it is likely that relying on existing social capital to promote health-enhancing behaviour will limit the impact of this approach.
Description: This paper is in closed access until the 14th March 2019.
Version: Accepted for publication
DOI: 10.1080/2159676X.2017.1376347
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/27222
Publisher Link: https://doi.org/10.1080/2159676X.2017.1376347
ISSN: 2159-676X
Appears in Collections:Closed Access (Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences)

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