A generic term for sociological theories positing the core principle of social life as consensus, and seeing common experiences, interests, and values as the defining characteristic of a population or a society. A consensus theory approach sees sport as a source of collective harmony, a way of binding people together in a shared experience. In sociological debates, consensus theory has been seen as in opposition to conflict theory. The perspective gained much currency in the mid 20th century in the works of Harvard sociologist Talcott Parsons, for whom equilibrium of the social system and integration of its various elements were the foundations of the social system. Most sociologically open-minded approaches to the place of sport in society will recognize that sport can embody both consensus and conflict, as well as one or the other, and that detailed empirical analysis of context and locale will generate cases illustrating the different balances of these elements.
Subjects: Sport and Leisure.