Identity Formation in Christian Professional Footballers: Life Course, Faith, Career

Daniels, David Graham (2022) Identity Formation in Christian Professional Footballers: Life Course, Faith, Career. PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire. doi:10.46289/SF88PC69

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This study investigates the influence of the Christian faith on the identity formation of professional footballers. It proposes the theocentric (God-centred) foundation that personal identity is received as a gift from God rather than gained by athletic achievements. The thesis considers how this theological perspective aids respondents' capacity to deal with the institutional pressures of an all-consuming career, which requires players to adhere to a restrictive, performance-based athletic identity. The research design is based on practical theology, which facilitates the disciplinary combination of theology and sociology. The study adopts a qualitative methodology and presents empirical findings from semi-structured interviews with 14 UK-based Christian professional footballers. The study's primary results are that a theocentric, received approach to identity formation provided Christian elite athletes with unprecedented existential fulfilment and security. These experiences led to an authentic integration of personal beliefs at work, resulting in behavioural and verbal witness to Christianity. The evidence also indicated that this process was encouraged by the support of other Christians through Bible studies undertaken in the context of peer groups and local churches. The main conclusion of the research is the benefit of appropriating a theocentric personal identity that is received from God rather than achieved by athletic performance. Becoming a Christian may alleviate the restrictive institutional and cultural demands of the professional game and engender the development of a more holistic personal identity which contributes to the wellbeing of professional footballers.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Uncontrolled Keywords: Professional football; Faith, Christianity
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV557 Sports > GV861 Ball games: Baseball, football, golf, etc.
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education and Applied Sciences
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 04 May 2023 09:40
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2023 16:01

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