Conceptualisation and Measurement of Social Cohesion within the Sport and Physical Activity Context: A Scoping Review

Louis Moustakas; Jule Wagner (2023)

Key facts

Type of publication
Journal article
Elements of social cohesion
Identity/feeling of belonging
Orientation towards the common good
Shared values
Geographical focus
Main thematic areas
Concept & measurement


Sport, physical activity and social cohesion are increasingly linked within the academic literature. Indeed, studies recognise both the importance of social cohesion for promoting physical activity and the potential of sport to support social cohesion. Up until now, however, the ways in which social cohesion has been defined and measured in the context of sport and physical activity have not been the subject of much academic attention. Through a scoping review of studies measuring social cohesion in the sport and physical activity context, we aim to uncover how social cohesion is defined and measured, thus allowing us to better grasp how the concept is understood and operationalised in this field. As such, full-text inclusion occurred when studies quantitatively measured social cohesion through a questionnaire/survey instrument in connection with sport or physical activity participation or within programmes using sport to foster social cohesion. A total of 40 papers were included in the review, showing broad support for the argument that social cohesion is positively related to sport or physical activity participation. However, the retained texts engage on only a surface level with the concept of social cohesion, with around half not defining the term and the associated measurement tools using only a fraction of the dimensions typically associated with social cohesion. To conclude, we propose future directions to enhance conceptual engagement with and measurement of social cohesion.

Publication_2023_Louis Moustakas; Jule Wagner

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