Universal design in sport : a catalyst for social inclusion?

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This study investigates social inclusion and universal design in the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic volunteer programs through the lens of actor-network theory (ANT). An ‘ethnography of performances’ of volunteers’ journeys tracks the development and changing nature of interactions in the relationships between actors. Document analysis, media analysis, participant observation and semi-structured interviews with key volunteer program informants were used to document the voices and actions of Rio2016 managers, team leaders and volunteers. A thematic analysis and process coding of the actions undertaken by the volunteers, team leaders and managers during the Games was conducted. The analysis provided evidence of how the social unfolds through the practices that volunteers carried out interacting with non-humans. The study revealed the numerous ways in which non-humans acted to facilitate or/and inhibit social inclusion in the volunteer program. The social emerges from the practices enacted in the volunteers’ program by humans and non-humans. Some practices resulted in inclusivity, while others did not have this effect. A novel conceptualisation of social inclusion that is related to practices and of UD as emergent design of the interactions between actors in practices is presented. UD emerges also as method to investigate the social in practices in a sociomaterialistic perspective by studying the interactions, the components that participate in the interactions, and the way these interact to underlie practices. The findings of this research could inform practitioners, future organising committees for the planning and operationalising of inclusive practices, and researchers for future study.
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