Sport and the upper classes: introduction

Huggins, Mike ORCID logo ORCID: (2008) Sport and the upper classes: introduction. Sport in History, 28 (3). pp. 351-363.

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This collection addresses two key questions. What was the place of sport in British upper-class life? How far have the upper classes contributed to sport in British society more generally? To begin to address such questions is important, not least because in a century far less conducive to aristocratic life, the sporting lives of the monarchy, aristocracy, gentry and other upper-class groups have been unappreciated and largely neglected. So we need to constantly remind ourselves that they were the aboriginal sporting group in Britain, at least in terms of having most time to devote to sport, and made a significant contribution to British sporting culture. Not only did sports play a key role in their own social and cultural worlds, but the male upper classes, their gentlemanly sons and (less often) their wives and daughters were deeply implicated in the shaping of British sporting leisure, and its dominant cultural images, up to and beyond the inter-war years. Their sporting interests have helped to shape the British sporting calendar, the rural landscape, sporting culture and the high status of particular events and organizations. Britain is still a class-based society, and the aristocracy are still much with us, even if largely not in the House of Lords. While class analysis has merged with cultural insights, and the exploration of a wider mix of people's identities, such as gender, generation, race and ethnicity, the current reworking and defences of its utility still demonstrate class's continued importance. (E.g. Neville Kirk, ‘Decline and fall, resilience and regeneration: A review essay on social class’, International labor and working-class history 57 (2000), pp. 88–102.) Reassessments of the position of social history also make frequent reference to the need to revive social class as a corrective to the quirkiness of the linguistic and cultural turns, though in a context which recognizes structure, agency and perception. (See, for example, the fall 2003 issue of the Journal of Social History.) So it seems timely to readdress, in more revisionist form, the contribution of the upper class, and place them once again firmly within the historiography of sport.

Item Type: Article
Journal / Publication Title: Sport in History
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
ISSN: 1746-0263
Departments: Academic Departments > Institute of Arts (IOA) > Humanities
Depositing User: Anna Lupton
Date Deposited: 26 Jan 2017 14:45
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2024 20:46


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