School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


Dr David Howe

Photo of Dr David Howe

Reader in the Social Anthropology of Sport

David is Reader in Social Anthropology of Sport.

He graduated from Trent University (Canada) with an BSc honours in general anthropology in 1989.

In 1991 David was awarded a MA in social/cultural anthropology at the University of Toronto. After moving to the UK to undertake a PhD in medical anthropology at UCL he was awarded this degree in 1997 for his work examining the social implications of the professionalisation of sports medicine.

He joined the staff of Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education (subsequently the University of Gloucestershire) in 1997 in the School of Sport and Leisure as Lecturer then Senior Lecturer in the Anthropology of Sport.

Before arriving at Loughborough in January 2006 David spent two years as Senior Lecturer in Sport and Leisure Cultures at the Chelsea School, University of Brighton.

David's research interests are broadly focused on culture and policy as they relate to sport and leisure. The main aim of David’s research is to use ethnographic methods to ‘get under the skin’ of sport and leisure cultures and disseminate knowledge to community member and the public in hope that an increase in understanding of the environments in which we engage in such practices will ultimately enhance people’s quality of life.

Specifically David’s research is theoretically informed by social theories of embodiment, notably those developed by Bourdieu, Foucault and Merleau-Ponty while also paying close attention to historical and ethical issues. There are several strands to David’s research. The first of these strands is part of the broad field of Adapted Physical Activity (APA) where David is interested in the impaired sporting body, health and identity. This area of work is being developed through a life-long involvement in, and commitment to, the Paralympic sporting movement. Long-term participant observation as athlete and administrator and latterly journalist and coach, has facilitated access to this rapidly changing sporting environment. Because of this research interest David is a member of the school’s Centre for Olympic Studies and Research (COSR) . The second strand of David's research is more broadly focused on the relationship between the body and culture in sport and leisure and is conducted in conjunction with the School’s Sociology of Sport Research Group.  David has conducted research on the body in relation to pain and injury, running bodies and the body in leisure spaces like English public houses to name a few. This research continues to be conducted using an embodied anthropological perspective.

David would be happy to hear from potential PhD students who are eager to explore culture and policy as it relates to sport and leisure provision.

Selected External Research-Related Roles:

  • Vice President of the International Federation of Adapted Physical Activity (IFAPA) 
  • Visiting Professor on the Erasmus Mundus Masters in Adaptive Physical Activity at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium (2007- present)
  • Visiting Professor at Sport Sciences and Physical Education Faculty from the University of Coimbra, Portugal. (2010 – present)
  • Member of the scientific committee of the Centre for Adapted Physical Activity Participation Studies (CAPAPS) directed by Prof. Ejgil Jespersen from the Institute of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark. 
  • Editorial Board Member 
    • Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly (2011- present)
    • European Journal of Adapted Physical Activity (2009 – present)

Conference Keynote and Speaker Presentations:

  • November 2012.  Howe, P. D. ‘Dealing with Difference: impairment and (re)embodiment in youth sport’, Given at 7th Annual Research into Youth Sport Conference.  Loughborough University, UK.
  • August 2012.  ‘Why do we hold separate Paralympic and Olympic events?’ panel also included Nora Groce, Mark Dyer and Dan Brooke. Given at University College London, London. UK.
  • February 2012.  ‘From Pistorius to Para-Olympism: contentious Paralympic Issues’ Panel also included Danielle Peers, Jean Laroche,  and Gregor Wolbring Given atFaculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB. Canada
  • September 2011.  ‘Paralympic Sport and Social Justice: Toward a Happy Marriage or Difficult Separation?’ Given at Disability and Citizenship in South Africa: a public debate and seminar series hosted by Stellenbosch University and the UN Special Rapporteur in Disability, River Club, Observatory, Cape Town, South Africa. (15.9.11)


  • Bale, J. and Howe, P. D. eds. (2009) Historical and Cultural Interpretations of a Sporting Barrier: the four minute mile. London: Routledge.
  • Howe, P.D. (2008) The Cultural Politics of the Paralympic Movement: Through the Anthropological Lens. London: Routledge.
  • Howe, P. D. (2004) Sport, Professionalism and Pain: Ethnographies of Injury and Risk. London: Routledge.

Refereed Journal Articles

  • Howe, P.D. and Parker, A. (2012) ‘Celebrating Imperfection: sport, disability and celebrity culture’, Celebrity Studies. Vol. 3 (3) 270-282.
  • Kitchin, P. J. and Howe, P. D. (2012) ‘How can the social theory of Pierre Bourdieu assist sport management research?’ Sport Management Review
  • Purdue, D. E. J. And Howe, P. D. (2012) ‘See the sport, not the disability? - Exploring the Paralympic Paradox’ Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise. Vol. 4 (2) 189-205.
  • Silva, C. F. and Howe, P. D. (2012) ‘The [In]Validity of Supercrip Representation of Paralympic athletes’ Journal for Sport and Social Issues. Vol. 36 (2) 174-194.
  • Howe, P. D.  (2011) ‘Cyborg and Supercrip: The Paralympics technology and the (dis) empowerment of disabled athletes’. Sociology. Vol. 45 (5): 868- 882.