Seghir Lazri works on the theme of the social vulnerability of athletes. In this column, he sifts a few clichés of sport through the social sciences. How the social explains sport, and vice versa.
In recent weeks, questions relating to secularism or “separatism” have occupied an important place in the political debate. There can be no “separatism” without communitarianism. However, this question of communitarianism is present in the world of sport, since the world of sport creates social links between individuals, but also helps to strengthen the already exciting links. Therefore in this current context, what information can we draw from sports communityism?
The sociological question
Research on this question is only very recent in the history of the sociology of sport and therefore few. If the work on the question of social integration is consistent and informs us indirectly on the subject of communitarianism, it would seem that the French social and political structure, ruling out a multiculturalist approach, hardly favors research on this theme. However, for more than ten years, the work of sociologist William Gasparini, in collaboration with other researchers, has tried to shed light on the situation of sports communitarianism in France and bring to light information on the nature of the practices. sports associations.
Having carried out numerous comparative surveys, and more particularly within the Turkish community in France, and in particular on Alsatian territory, William Gasparini highlights the reasons for the “Community withdrawal” in the field of sport. Thus a study at the local level makes it possible to understand that the mechanisms leading to the sport of the self result from a logic not “Only identity, but also a balance of power with historic local associations and their leaders”. If there is “community withdrawal”, this phenomenon is not simply specific to associations made up of people of foreign origin, but is indeed also linked to the characteristics of sports clubs whose members are of French origin. Moreover, according to the researcher, this “Second phenomenon appears to be much more frequent than the first and mainly concerns rural areas”.
Indeed, the analysis of first names, carried out with several amateur clubs in Alsace, shows that despite the presence of foreign populations (of modest origin), especially in rural areas, the proportion of players from immigrant families is often low. or even non-existent. According to the authors, “We can then really ask ourselves whether there is not a phenomenon of exclusion in these villages.” This question is also based on certain statements from practitioners of foreign origins (mainly Turkish) who feel rejected and believe that access to historic clubs was only allowed them subject to a “good level” The creation of a sports association based on an ethnic and cultural affiliation depends closely on the social and geographical environment of the host.
What also puts forward William Gasparini and other associated researchers like Pierre Weiss, is that sport, by its competitive nature, but also federative in certain areas, appears to be “A source of appreciation for young people who experience school failure (or at least school paths to relegation) and social exclusion”. And so “For some stigmatized immigrants, winning a sports match can take on the importance and value of victories in life”. Sport as a means of reclaiming oneself in a discriminating social universe is an observation also shared by sociologists Paul Cary and Jean-Louis Bergez. According to their ethnographic survey carried out with the football section of an Algerian cultural association, we see that affiliation to a sports structure through cultural affiliation makes it possible to reconnect with a more positive identity, namely that of the homeland. original.
This type of sports membership allows the learning of new social values which are admittedly idealized, but which distance the individual from certain more stigmatizing social norms. Playing under the banner of one’s origins confers better social recognition, and makes it possible to consolidate what we call in sociology, the links of elective participation, in other words the links established with the group of peers in order to ensure protection. and recognition. In this regard, the community sports club, as William Gasparini reminds us, is often the means for some to find a job or an internship and thus to acquire essential social resources for better national integration. It is also important to note that social and economic capital is an important factor in participating in a community sports association, since often the better-off segments of immigrant populations prefer “Tennis, horse-riding or” mixed “dance clubs, but socially marked for the sake of distinction”.
In short, the existence of community sports clubs results from the social and political structures of the host country, but also from the material conditions of existence of the immigrant populations. These sports associations appear above all, moreover, as means of resilience and spaces of self-improvement. This is also a first step towards national integration. However, it is also important that the State, through certain public policies, ensure certain principles, such as gender diversity, which in sport can sometimes be undermined.