This Sporting Life: The Antithetical Novel’s Revelation of the Organization and Work of Sport

Beverley Geesin, Simon Michael Mollan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The novel This Sporting Life by David Storey is used in this article as fictive, ethnographic data to explore the relationship between sports work, industrial organization, identity, and the management of the body. Drawing upon the work of Pierre Bourdieu on sport, and rugby specifically, and the relationship between sport, the body, class and rationalization this paper argues that David Storey provides a vivid, if pessimistic, fictional, and semi-autobiographical account of the ways in which sports, and sports work specifically, is driven by management discourses of rationality and control. We examine how this functions as class exploitation where labour is embodied and expended as a form of bodily capital. Lastly we offer a critique of the precarious social mobility that sports work promises. Through Storey’s Rugby League playing fictional anti-hero–Art Machin–we explore the central struggle between social structures and individual agency.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalCulture and Organization
Early online date20 Nov 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Nov 2017

Bibliographical note

© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.


  • sport
  • Rugby League
  • industrial labour
  • class
  • management of the body

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