Where biomedicalisation and magic meet: therapeutic innovations of elite sports injury in British professional football and cycling

Faulkner, Alex, McNamee, Michael, Coveney, Catherine and Gabe, Jonathan (2017) Where biomedicalisation and magic meet: therapeutic innovations of elite sports injury in British professional football and cycling. Social Science and Medicine, 178. pp. 136-143. ISSN 0277-9536

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Abstract

Injury is a conspicuous feature of the practice and public spectacle of contemporary elite sports. The paper argues that the ‘biomedicalisation’ thesis (medico-industrial nexus, techno-scientific drivers, medical optimisation, biologisation, the rise of evidence and health surveillance) goes some way to capturing the use in elite sports injury of some highly specialised mainstream therapies and some highly maverick biological therapies, which are described. Nevertheless, these main strands of biomedicalisation do not capture the full range of these phenomena in the contexts of sports medicine and athletes' practices in accessing innovative, controversial therapies. Drawing on multi-method qualitative research on top-level professional football and cycling in the UK, 2014–2016, we argue that concepts of ‘magic’ and faith-based healing, mediated by notions of networking behaviour and referral systems, furnish a fuller explanation. We touch on the concept of ‘medical pluralism’, concluding that this should be revised in order to take account of belief-based access to innovative bio-therapies amongst elite sportspeople and organisations.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
Depositing User: Sharon Krummel
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2017 12:57
Last Modified: 16 Aug 2017 23:23
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/66871

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
Emerging intersections of biomedical technology and elite sport: institutions, practices and ethicsG1160ESRC-ECONOMIC & SOCIAL RESEARCH COUNCILES/K010956/1