With reference to Bourideu’s theoretical framework, the fields of education and sport can be seen as social fields in which choice and social selection are influenced partly by the possession of capital and habitus and partly by the organisational and structural circumstances. This paper sets out to investigate those pupils who, in the crossing of the fields of education and sports, choose and have been selected to participate in school sports in Sweden. From a cultural sociological perspective, the main purpose of this paper is to identify and analyse how organisational conditions and pupils’ social characteristics interact with the different selection processes underlying upper secondary pupils’ participation in school sports.
For the analysis of the selection of pupils on a national level, we use registry data on upper secondary school pupils in Sweden. For the analysis of the selection process on an individual level, data were derived from two questionnaire surveys completed by pupils participating in school sports at 18 strategically selected upper secondary school during 2008 and 2009. In total, the survey data consist of answers from 677 pupils (386 boys and 291 girls). For this paper, the conforming parts of the questionnaires were merged, and include information about the pupils’ social background, choice of education, athletic level and parental involvement in sport. Characteristics that can be seen as indications of the possession of an educational capital and sporting capital.
Swedish school sports are organised primarily in combination with academic study programmes and team sport, and this results in that in comparison the nationwide population pupils who participate in school sports are: to a higher degree boys, attending academic study programs, have Swedish background and whose parents have a higher education level (p<0.05). Furthermore, the result show that the choice between different school sports programmes is related to the pupils’ possession of educational capital and sporting capital. School sports programmes with higher demands on athletic ability require larger possessions of capital among the pupils (p<0.05).
We argue that school sports, through the crossing of the two fields of education and sports, increase the social selection among the pupil. The organisational condition for school sports makes participation neither reasonable nor possible for all pupils. Instead, the supply of school sport appeals to a narrow or rather specific taste for sport and education. In this sense school sport is generally organized in a way to attract boys with highly educated parents and with an interest in sports.
20th annual Congress of the European college of Sport Science, (ECSS), Sustainable Sport, in Malmö, Sweden, June 2015