Key books focusing upon aspects of the Paralympic Games

Over the last decade there has been a marked increase in the publication of books focusing upon various aspects of the Paralympic Games, especially by good quality academic publishers such as Routledge, Sage and Palgrave MacMillan. Subject matters include the history of the Games (Bailey, 2008; Brittain, 2014; Goodman, 1986; Scruton, 1998); media and the Paralympic Games (Jackson et al., 2015; Schantz and Gilbert, 2012); legacy and the Paralympic Games (Legg and Gilbert, 2011; Misener et al., 2018); relations to specific Games (Cashman and Darcy, 2008 [Sydney 2000]); the cultural politics of the Paralympic Games (Howe, 2008a); an introductory text to the Paralympic Games (Brittain, 2016); training and coaching the Paralympic athlete (Vanlandewijck and Thompson, 2016, 2011); nutrition and the Paralympic athlete (Broad, 2014) and finally a handbook of Paralympic Studies (Brittain and Beacom, 2018). With the exception of the two historical books by Goodman and Scruton, all of these books have been published in the last ten years. There have been a number of books and handbooks that have also been published with titles including the words ‘Olympic and Paralympic Games’ (c.f. Dixon and Gibbons, 2014; Girginov, 2014) but almost without exception these books generally include one substantive chapter covering some aspect of the Paralympic Games with rest of the book focusing almost solely upon the Olympic Games. Indeed, Girginov’s (2014) Handbook of the London Olympic and Paralympic Gaines Volume II does not even include the word Paralympic in its index, although it does have a limited number of references to disability.

The range of journal articles focusing upon aspects of the Paralympic Games

I will now introduce five of the main areas that social science-based research has been carried out with respect to the Paralympic Games. This is by no means an exhaustive list and, as I have already highlighted, just about any piece of research that has been carried out with respect to the Olympic Games can be done again with a range of extra interesting issues thrown into the analytical mix by applying the theories from the models of disability or ableism previously outlined.

Media and the Paralympic Games

Media coverage of the Paralympic Games is perhaps one of the most common areas of investigation and articles investigating this have adopted a wide range of approaches and focusses including comparing Olympic and Paralympic coverage of a Summer (Chang et al., 2011) and a Winter (Golden, 2003) Games; media coverage of a Paralympic Games within a specific country (Thomas and Smith, 2003 (quantitative and qualitative analysis of British newspaper coverage of the 2000 Sydney Paralympics in terms of text and photographs); qualitative analysis of Czech media coverage of Summer Paralympic Games, 1992—2008 (Tejkalova, 2015); investigating a specific Games (Schell and Duncan, 1999 [Atlanta 1996]); a comparison between countries (Schantz and Gilbert, 2001) or media coverage of an individual Paralympian (Schell and Rodriguez, 2001). There have also been articles investigating how media coverage of the Paralympic Games might impact upon the image of people with disabilities (Howe, 2008b) and how the framing of Paralympic media content might actually negatively impact upon the way people with disabilities are perceived in the wider society (Silva and Howe, 2012). These articles have taken both a quantitative and a qualitative approach employing a range ot analytical tools including content analysis and media frames analysis.

Legacy and the Paralympic Games

A more recent focus area for researchers of the Paralympic Games has been that of legacy. With the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) making strong claims regarding how the Paralympic Games and movement can positively impact societal attitudes towards disability and the lives of people with disabilities in general, this has led to increased investigation of these claims. Perhaps the best place to start with this particular issue is with Misener et al. (2013) who carried out a thematic analysis of articles pertaining to Paralympic legacy. Some of the more interesting papers are actually highly critical of the legacy claims made. Purdue and Howe (2015) discuss the power struggles that shape legacy within the Paralympic field. Braye, Dixon and Gibbons (2013) discuss legacy from the perspective of non-sporting disability activists and Braye (2016) tackles the subject from the perspective of retired Paralympians. Brittain and Beacom (2016) compare the views of the British government post-London 2012 with those of disability activists in the UK and highlight how external issues such as competing government policies can impact legacy. Bush et al. (2013) highlight how the Paralympic Games and Paralympic athletes’ bodies are sites through which social discourses and processes contribute to the shaping of human relations.

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