Virtual sports governance: a figurational analysis of social network development and transformation during the ‘Workplace Challenge’ online programme

Carter, Alice, Middleton, Geoff, Bishop, Daniel and Evans, Adam (2014) Virtual sports governance: a figurational analysis of social network development and transformation during the ‘Workplace Challenge’ online programme. In: 4th International Conference on Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise, 1-3 September 2014, Loughborough University.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Poster)
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County Sports Partnerships (CSPs) epitomise the change from a government to governance approach in UK sports provision as their operation relies upon building networks and partnerships. This study evaluated a CSP led physical activity programme in the East of England entitled the ‘Workplace Challenge’ (WPC). The WPC utilises a website designed to engage people from workplaces in physical activity. Employees self-record their physical activity over an eight week period, with points awarded on the programme website for activity completed. The programme seeks to promote a peer-challenge culture with the provision of online leader boards and an interactive virtual platform. A figurational framework was employed to investigate how networks of real and virtual relationships operating at all levels of service delivery influenced programme uptake, participant engagement and programme efficacy. Interviews and social network analysis investigated the reach and uptake of the programme throughout these networks. The notion that humans should be considered interdependent plurals existing in fluid and dynamic power networks, or figurations, was principally applied in order to uncover how the messages promoted in the WPC were propagated, transformed or resisted by participants through both virtual and face-to-face networks of relationships. Findings indicated that embodied social relationships within workplaces created a competitive atmosphere, which motivated increases in physical activity and strong programme engagement. Where participants relied upon ‘virtual’ relationships with other participants the programme had weaker uptake and reduced influence on physical activity levels, indicating the importance of peer support and the power of peer observation on physical activity choices.

Keywords:Physical activity, Figurations, Work based health, Virtual networks, Sociology
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C600 Sports Science
L Social studies > L300 Sociology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Sport and Exercise Science
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ID Code:15076
Deposited On:27 Sep 2014 20:12

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