Social class differences in youths’ participation in organized sports: What are the mechanisms?


Publication date


Series/Report no

International Review for the Sociology of Sport;


SAGE Publications

Document type


Despite several decades of Sport for All policies, social class differences in organized sports participation of youth persist. However, few population-based studies have examined how social class may influence adolescent participation. We use survey data from upper secondary school students (aged 16–19) from the Norwegian capital of Oslo (N = 10,531) and investigate the factors through which social class operates. To measure parental social class, we use the well-established Erikson, Goldthorpe and Portocarero class scheme, supplemented by indicators of economic and cultural resources. We also include data on immigrant status, neighbourhood and school affiliation. There were large differences in organized sport participation between youth from the higher and lower social classes. Indicators of parental economic resources mediated many of these differences and had an additional independent statistical effect. Indicators of cultural resources, immigrant status, and neighbourhood and school affiliation only had modest effects. We conclude that social class plays a major role in organized sport participation, and economic resources are particularly important. Methodologically, we suggest that well-established social class schemes should be used in such research, supplemented with more detailed indicators of economic resources.




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