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'We aren't racing a fair race': Rawls, Sen, and the Paralympic Games

Thomas, Gareth Martin ORCID: and Banks, Timothy 2013. 'We aren't racing a fair race': Rawls, Sen, and the Paralympic Games. Sociological Research Online 18 (3) , 14. 10.5153/sro.3123

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Following the final of the 200 metres in the London Paralympics 2012, athlete Oscar Pistorius criticised the prosthetic leg (‘blade’) length of Alan Oliveira, a fellow athlete and eventual winner of the race, and accused the International Paralympic Committee of failing to implement fair stipulations. Pistorius’ contention directs attention toward an issue largely ignored in the sociological spectrum: the concept of fairness in the sporting arena. Drawing on the accounts of John Rawls (1971) and Amartya Sen (2009), specifically in terms of considering justice as fairness, we deconstruct the principle of fairness in the Paralympics which is currently framed within scientific discourse determining the validity of both athletes and performance-enhancing technologies. By identifying how the Paralympics adopts a Rawlsian understanding of fairness, we explore the work of Sen to highlight its complexity in this context and the need to retreat from taken-for-granted assumptions informing current knowledge.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Uncontrolled Keywords: Fairness, Paralympics, Rawls, Sen, Sport
Publisher: Sociological Research Online
ISSN: 1360-7804
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 29 Aug 2023 22:47

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