Panel G.14 — Social Inclusion Through Sport and Physical Education

Convenors Luciana Taddei (IRPPS CNR); Luca Bianchi (Quolity s.r.l.)

Keywords Sport, Physical Education, Social Inclusion, School, Dis/able


The issue of inclusion has been crossing the public debate for many decades, developing on several levels: political, economic, legal, social, etc. The definitions of social inclusion are many and polychrome. For Taylor (1994), it expresses the need to recognize all forms of cultural difference and to create public spaces in which these differences can be expressed and valued. Bauman (2001) defines it as belonging to supportive communities characterized by relationships of reciprocity. Sennett (2012) refers to creating contexts that enable people to actively experience their sociality. Ricolfi (2018) highlights the prerequisite for social inclusion: equal access to goods, services, and opportunities that enable individuals to be protagonists in the social, cultural, and economic life of communities and to be able to develop their full potential. The desired effects of any inclusive process are dense in meaning and particularly topical (Gray, 2000; Young, 2000; Coakley & Donnelly, 2002).

In the late 1990s, reflections on sport and social inclusion intersected (Frisby & Ponic, 2013; Pegg & Compton, 2004): 1) the universalism of sport, its ability to reach anyone – at least on a symbolic level – can help people overcome physical, social, cultural, and generational barriers, while at the same time contributing to improved health, self-esteem, emotional management, and relationships with others (Carless & Douglas, 2004; Carless, 2007); 2) the extreme plasticity of its practice, adapting structures and settings. Sport has appeared able to build social contexts, public spaces, and supportive communities, to welcome and enhance diversity, thus initiating inclusive processes (Bianchi, 2022).

International sports systems have seen a process of increasing expansion and differentiation since the 1970s (Pirone, 2019). Spectacle sports and commercial opportunities, opposed to ‘Sport for All’ movement, promoting social inclusion. A more spontaneous and less organized sport, aimed at a different public, largely made up of people belonging to vulnerable populations. Sport is beginning to enter more and more into the areas of disability (motor, intellectual, psychic, and relational), social vulnerability, addictions, and criminal justice. “Sport for all” and “in the measure of each individual” (Cei, 2003) aim to redesign sporting practice by assigning individuals the possibility of contributing and participating in the game, each in their own way, each according to their possibilities. How to do this is already an open question, and it raises relevant questions on who the excluded are and what requirements sport itself must have to be truly inclusive.

In this panel, we want to stimulate a debate about policies and practices (yet experimented or theorized) that can foster social inclusion through sports and physical activities, in particular in schools and for dis/abled people. The relevant topics include, but are not limited to:

– Cross-Cultural Comparisons of PE and Sport

– Youth disaffection and re-engagement

– Health and body pedagogies

– Dis/Ability

– Rights of the child in sport and youth voice

– PE/sport as settings for formal, informal, and non-formal learning

– Innovation in and through sport

– Professional development for teachers and coaches.


Guidelines and abstracts submission