Let’s get realistic: why ‘what works’ will probably not work in evaluative sport research

Reinhard Haudenhuyse, Pieter Debognies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Abstract

In this commentary, we critically discuss realist evaluation approaches in the broad field of social sport research. Although evidence-based approaches have been problematised both in and beyond sport research, what has, however, not been sufficiently problematised are realist-oriented approaches. Currently, amongst sport scientists and consultants, there seems to be an unquestioned (blind) belief in and uncritical acceptance of realist evaluation approaches. However, realist evaluation delimits the space for democratic contestation through downgrading the expertise and agency of practitioners. Practitioners still need to be able to decide not to act according to academic evidence about ‘what works’, if they judge that such a line of action would be undesirable for the people they work with. What is needed is an evaluative approach that moves away from a narrow pre-occupation on (measuring) outcomes and the construction of (programme) theories. This also implies that the current knowledge power-imbalance needs to be tipped in the direction of practitioners.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-379
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Policy and Politics
Volume14
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2021

Keywords

  • sport
  • evaluation
  • realist
  • youth
  • leisure

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