Sociology ETDs

Publication Date



Throughout the last century, sports have become more important than ever to individuals around the world. This project seeks to explore and help explain variation in attention to sport among 34 countries in 2007 using two theories about world development coupled with modernization- and globalization-related arguments. The aim is to show how the host of concepts contained within these theories can be used cohesively to help understand world regional and national differences in participation and viewing rates, as well as the motives which drive these forms of attention to sport. The project seeks to push predominant development theories to consider how current attitudes and behaviors in sport can be explained by both world-systems and world polity theories. I find that modernization and world polity processes bolster active participation while shifting and creating a multitude of attitudes about the meanings and functions of sport. World-systems processes constrain participation but contribute to higher visual attention through increased commercialization while simultaneously promoting a paradigm of competitive sport. The interaction between global forces and local settings helps create and maintain unique regional variation in attention to sport due to historical processes of diffusion and exploration. The findings suggest that processes deriving from the global spread of capitalism create opportunities to engage in sport in some regions at the expense of other regions. The analysis suggests a need for increased research and specification of the top-down mechanisms which either enable or restrict participation and visual attention, as well as the shift over time in attitudes towards sport in modern, as compared to modernizing, countries.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Goodman, Ryan

Second Committee Member

Wood, Richard


sport, recreation, participation, globalization, development, modernization, world polity, world-systems, culture



Document Type