The role of sport in reflecting and shaping group dynamics: The “intergroup relations continuum” and its application to Fijian rugby and soccer

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Sport Management Review, 2019
Issue Date:
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© 2019 A significant body of knowledge exists around the role of intergroup relations in sport for development and peace (SFDP). However, while numerous SFDP researchers have investigated overt conflict, scholars have typically overlooked the varied nature of intergroup relations in comparatively stable SFDP environments. In addressing that issue, the authors explore intergroup relations in the context of Fiji, a country which in recent years has moved from a society characterized by the politics of coup d'état to democratic government and relatively peaceful social relations. That said, Fiji has long been shaped by a fundamental cultural divide between Indigenous Fijians (iTaukei) and Fijians of Indian ancestry (Indo-Fijians): this is reflected in the de facto separatism between these groups in relation to their role in rugby union and Association football (soccer). The authors present a qualitative framework—the Intergroup Relations Continuum (IRC)—by which to map intergroup relations as they apply in Fiji according to identity, ethnicity and sport. While the IRC is applied here in a Fijian context, the model is intended to be generalizable, aiming to provide a practical instrument for researchers, sport managers, policymakers and local stakeholders. The goal is to allow them to visually illustrate group affinities, rivalries, and sensibilities in terms of collective relationships that characterize sport and society.
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