Personal goals, group performance and ‘social’ networks: Participants’ negotiation of virtual and embodied relationships in the ‘Workplace Challenge’ physical activity programme

Evans, A. B. and Carter, A. and Middleton, Geoff and Bishop, Daniel (2016) Personal goals, group performance and ‘social’ networks: Participants’ negotiation of virtual and embodied relationships in the ‘Workplace Challenge’ physical activity programme. In: 5th International Conference for Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise, 30th August - 1st September 2016, University of Chichester.

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Abstract

County Sports Partnerships (CSPs) epitomise the growing reliance upon networks within sports delivery in the UK. This study investigated how social networks were influenced by a CSP-led programme, the ‘Workplace Challenge’ (WPC). The WPC used a web-platform to encourage workplace-based teams to engage in physical activity. Employees self-recorded their activity over eight weeks, with points awarded for activity completed. A peer-challenge culture was maintained using online league tables, prizes and an interactive virtual platform. Data was obtained via semi-structured interviews with fifteen participants in two case-study workplaces and a sample of participants registered individually. Two CSP-based programme planners also took part. A figurational sociological framework was utilised to investigate participants’ negotiation of networks of embodied and virtual relationships associated with the programme. Messages promoted in the WPC were interpreted by participants differently according to the spatial and organisational structure of their workplace. Embodied social relationships within workplaces reinforced professional I-we groups where peer support was common, whereas virtual networks of relationships were less effective and sometimes highlighted participants’ isolation. Moreover, the emphasis upon competition and comparison within and between teams caused some to question their performance. For some, competition motivated engagement. For less active participants, constant comparison could prove discouraging if participants felt they had failed colleagues. Planners of similar programmes must be cognizant of the uneven manner in which programmes are disseminated through networks of participants. In particular, contextual differences at the point of delivery, including organisational structures and existing power hierarchies, can have a significant impact.

Keywords:workplace health, Physical activity
Subjects:B Subjects allied to Medicine > B990 Subjects Allied to Medicine not elsewhere classified
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Sport and Exercise Science
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ID Code:24035
Deposited On:09 Sep 2016 10:33

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