Sport is central social phenomenon, which is shaped by many socio-cultural factors. Sport sociology is on one side special and applied sociology and on the other side theory field of sport science. It is the aim of sport sociology and to investigate the action field sport in regard ti its internal structure and position in society (external structure).
This includes questions of micro-sociology like group behaviour, but also macro-sociological issues like the organisational structure of a national sport system. Three areas can be distinguished according to HEINEMANN (1990): preconditions of sport engaging in sport from the point of view action theory; social structures in sport and sport groups; relations between sport and society. Sport sociology utilises a wide range of ways to gain knowledge from theoretical-hermeneutical up to empirical-analytical.
The following issues are examples representing the body of knowledge of sport sociology; sport and society; sport and major activities of human life (daily routine, work, leisure time); sport and social fields; sport under the aspect of institutions/organisations; sport in the context of individual sociology; sport and socialisation; sport and social problesm; sport in intercultural comparison.
HEINEMANN (1983, 358-359) defines sport sociology as follows:
"Sport sociology is special sociology as well as special sport science. ... Therefore, sport sociology deals with this action field sport in the following directions: internal structure; position within different forms of society; its functional and symbolic meaning etc. Sport sociology is also special sport science by dealing with specific problems of sport and by striving to find solutions for current problems in this action field by following synthetical approaches in cooperation with other sciences. ...
1. A sociology of social systems. ...
a. The manifold determinations and influences of sport from cultural value systems and socio-structural conditions in a society.
b. The social structure and process within sport.
c. Influence of sport on individuals, on social areas like family, work place, politics, church, educational system, and on the social structure in total.
2. Sociology of "social figures".
The sports person, coach, referee, official etc, can be the target of research in sport sociology as a"social figure".
3. Sociology of related issues and determinations along subject matter lines.