The thematic axis " Sports and Politics" focuses essentially on the study of the porosities between the practice, the rule, and the institutions of sports and politics. There are two different ways of studying the relations between sports and politics: a) observing how politics permeate sport (the construction of sports as a political object); b) observing how sport permeates politics (the influence of sport sin the political sphere). The activities organised within the framework of this axis articulate these two aspects by analysing both the processes of increased politicisation of sports as well as the uses of sports in the political competition.
Three fields of investigation are privileged:
Sports as a factor of politicisation and of expression of identity (as a means of expressing or diluting social conflicts): strategies of politicisation or of depoliticisation put in place by social actors, or to observe the role of sport in the sedimentation of national identities and of collective representations, peaceful or violent demonstrations through team supporterism.
The link between sporting careers and political careers: the political commitment of professional athletes, the use of sports figures during electoral campaigns, comparisons between the game of sports and the game of politics (relations between performance and the competitive aspect).
The governance of sport: public policies in the field of sports and funding of sports activities, actors of governance and reforms of sports institutions, relations between the different levels of power (local, national, and international associations), organisation of sporting events.
These research orientations tackle the three usual dimensions of political science : polity, politics and policy. They are translated into various research projects, the creation of databases, and the organisation of seminars with national and international speakers
Beyond a strong expertise on the relations between sports and politics in Belgium, this axis also has a comparative perspective with specialisations on the following geographic areas: Africa, Latin America, Europe, Middle-East, Russia.
The "Sports and Politics" axis also organises joint activities with other disciplines with research interests around sports (sociology, anthropology, economics, history, law, medicine, psychology, etc.).