Uncertainty, Shame and Consumption: Negotiating Occupational and Non-Work Identities in Community Sports Coaching

Ben A. Ives, Laura A. Gale, Paul Potrac, Lee J. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)
32 Downloads (Pure)


This paper addressed the lived experiences of two community sports coaches in an era of neoliberal capitalism, consumerism, and insecure employment. Specifically, we considered (a) their attempts to develop a desired occupational identity in a casualised and audit-driven industry and (b) their experiences of the tensions that existed between the conditions of their employment and their ability to effectively enact other (important) identities outside of the workplace. Data were generated via 45 hrs of participant observation and 42 hrs of in-depth interviews. The fieldnotes and interview transcripts were iteratively analysed. Symbolic interactionist and postmodern theorisations of identity, work, and consumption were integrated to interpret the participants’ experiences. Our analysis highlighted how the participants’ identity management was influenced by the expectations of work and non-work social audiences and the motivational weight of their future aspirations. It also illustrated how the participants’ readings of their employment conditions, dominant societal discourses regarding consumption, and subcultural expectations of success and failure informed their respective decision to leave this form of work. Based on these findings, we believe this study makes a substantive contribution to the evolving literature base addressing the identity management of sports workers, as well as our micro-level understandings of the impacts and consequences of neoliberal capitalism in sport.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-103
JournalSport, Education and Society
Issue number1
Early online date7 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2020


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