In Times of Liquid Modernity: Experiences of the Paralympic Student-Athlete

PhD Thesis

Campbell, Natalie 2013. In Times of Liquid Modernity: Experiences of the Paralympic Student-Athlete. PhD Thesis University of East London School of Health Sports and Bioscience
AuthorsCampbell, Natalie
TypePhD Thesis

This phenomenological study explores the life-worlds of eight Paralympic student-athletes by employing the conceptual framework of Zygmunt Bauman’s Liquid Modernity (2000), and utilising Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Smith, Flowers & Larkin, 2009) as a method of data gathering and analysis.
The study aimed to answer the main research question: To what extent is Bauman’s Liquid Modernity an effective metaphor for describing the life of a Paralympic student-athlete. Accounts concerning the lived experience of each of the participants’ life-worlds were gathered via semi-structured interviews and analysed through a double hermeneutic process of interpretation producing a multitude of intricate, intimate and personal themes for each participant. Analysed and presented as individual case studies, the research demonstrates the uniqueness of experience despite the existence of common and shared life environments. Collectively, the themes from each account were then explored via the lens of Bauman’s sociology, identifying connections with Bauman’s considerations of Identity, Otherness, Culture and Belonging in times of liquid modernity.
Six key areas were identified for discussion: i) Sport as a container for Liquid life; ii) The problem of Identity; iii) Moving beyond the Social Model of Disability; iv) Belonging to the Paralympic movement; v) The creation of Otherness; vi) The Liquid life of the Paralympic Student-Athlete.
The research concludes that the metaphor of Bauman’s Liquid Modernity can be used to provide insight to the phases of liquidity being experienced at an individual / psychological level, providing a demonstration of how the concept might be explored within the realms of the sociology of sport, with a specific focus on the Paralympic student-athlete. However, the study also demonstrates a need for research to explore Bauman’s Liquid Modernity at the micro-level to elucidate why some of his global observations withstand for the individual life-words of the participants, and why some observations seemed very much at odds with the accounts provided for this study.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Publication dates
PrintDec 2013
Publication process dates
Deposited27 Oct 2014
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