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Men, sport, spinal cord injury, and narratives of hope


  • Smith, Brett
  • Sparkes, Andrew C.


Drawing on data from a life history study of a small group of men who have suffered spinal cord injury and become disabled through playing sport, this article explores the meanings of hope in their lives. It focuses upon the life stories of 14, white, predominantly working-class men, aged 26-51. The most common kinds of hope used by the men were shaped by three powerful narrative types that circulate in Western cultures. These were 'concrete hope' (the most common form), shaped by the restitution narrative; 'transcendent hope', shaped by the quest narrative; and 'despair' or loss of any kind of hope, shaped by the chaos narrative. The implications of this dynamic process for their identity reconstruction as disabled men are considered.

Suggested Citation

  • Smith, Brett & Sparkes, Andrew C., 2005. "Men, sport, spinal cord injury, and narratives of hope," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(5), pages 1095-1105, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:61:y:2005:i:5:p:1095-1105

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Del Vecchio Good, Mary-Jo & Munakata, Tseunetsugu & Kobayashi, Yasuki & Mattingly, Cheryl & Good, Byron J., 1994. "Oncology and narrative time," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 855-862, March.
    2. Little, Miles & Sayers, Emma-Jane, 2004. "While there's life ...: hope and the experience of cancer," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 59(6), pages 1329-1337, September.
    3. Crossley, Michele L., 2003. "'Let me explain': narrative emplotment and one patient's experience of oral cancer," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 439-448, February.
    4. Ezzy, Douglas, 2000. "Illness narratives: time, hope and HIV," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 50(5), pages 605-617, March.
    5. Nekolaichuk, Cheryl L. & Jevne, Ronna F. & Maguire, Thomas O., 1999. "Structuring the meaning of hope in health and illness," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 48(5), pages 591-605, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rhodes, Tim & Bernays, Sarah & Terzic, Katarina Jankovic, 2009. "Medical promise and the recalibration of expectation: Hope and HIV treatment engagement in a transitional setting," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(6), pages 1050-1059, March.
    2. repec:eee:socmed:v:198:y:2018:i:c:p:53-60 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Beard, Renée L. & Fox, Patrick J., 2008. "Resisting social disenfranchisement: Negotiating collective identities and everyday life with memory loss," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(7), pages 1509-1520, April.


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