Politicisation of migrant leisure: a public and civil intervention involving organised sports

Sine Agergaard, Annette Michelsen la Cour, Martin Treumer Gregersen

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Using the perspective of governmentality this article aims to contribute to an understanding of the rationalities of specific political interventions, and the techniques used to monitor the leisure activities of particular target groups. This process of politicization is revealed here through a case study of an intervention that provides sporting activities in holiday periods for migrant children and adolescents living in so-called socially disadvantaged areas (DGI Playground). The analysis highlights the rationality that the leisure time of migrant youth is a potentially dangerous time slot and they must be engaged in organized sports; that is not only healthy but also civilizing and character forming leisure time activities. Techniques of monitoring the intervention are developed in a partnership between public institutions, regional umbrella organizations and local sports clubs leading to a need for employment of welfare professionals. Furthermore, the article illustrates that in the discursive construction of subject positions for the target group, migrant youth tend to become clients and recipients of public services rather than potential members of civil sports clubs. These findings are supported by ethnographic interviews with participants that show how youngsters who took part in DGI Playground were able to reflect the official aim of the programme and relate this to their desire to have fun and hang out with their friends. The article ends with a discussion of the further scope of applying critical theoretical perspectives to studies of migrants’ leisure and sports activities.

Translated title of the contributionPolitisering af indvandreres fritid: en offentlig og civil intervention involverende organiseret sport
Original languageEnglish
JournalLeisure Studies
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)200-214
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • ethnicity
  • governmentality
  • political thinking and techniques
  • socially deprived

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