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Accounting for success and failure: A discursive psychological approach to sport talk

By Abigail Locke


In recent years, constructionist methodologies such as discursive psychology have begun to be used in sport research (Faulkner & Finlay, 2002; Jimmerson, 2001; Locke, 2003; McGannon & Mauws, 2000). This paper provides a practical guide to applying a discursive psychological approach to sport data. After an initial discussion of qualitative and quantitative research paradigms, it provides a detailed explanation of the assumptions and principles of discursive psychology (Edwards & Potter, 1992), outlining the stages of a discursive study from choice of data through transcription and analysis. Finally, the paper demonstrates a discursive psychological analysis on sport data where athletes are discussing success and failure in competition. The analysis examines how the athletes in question manage their accountability for performance and demonstrates that for both there is an apparent dilution of personal agency, to either maintain their modesty in the case of success or to manage blame when talking about failure. It is concluded that discursive psychology has much to offer sport research as it provides a methodology for in-depth studies of interactions in spor

Topics: BF
Publisher: Human Kinetics
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