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The 2019 World Congress of Sociology of Sport conference will get under way this afternoon at the University of Otago with a panel debating the issue of ''the power of sport as a tool to create positive social change for women and girls in society''.
Included in the panel will be the Minister of Sport and Recreation, Grant Robertson, NZOC chief executive Kereyn Smith and International Working Group on Women and Sport co-chairwoman Raewyn Lovett.
The conference will be held in Dunedin for the first time.
The conference, which will have delegates from all over the world, has a theme examining the challenges faced in the study of the sociology of sport.
''The sociology of sport and alternative futures recognises that our field, like its parent discipline sociology and the social sciences more broadly, is facing unprecedented challenges not only over funding and resources, but also in terms of its legitimacy and relevance,'' conference organiser, the International Sociology of Sport Association, said in briefing material.
''There has been a slow but steady marginalisation of sociology of sport as a field of academic study.''
The association said that, curiously, this had occurred despite enormous growth in the interest in sport within the global economy and as a focus of scholarly inquiry.
Both state and private interests are increasingly aware of sport's strategic location at the intersection of key sectors of society, including education, health, business and tourism/nation branding.
Scholars spanning the fields of sociology, anthropology, history, geography, politics, economics, media and communication studies, and gender studies were increasingly recognising the social significance of sport as a cultural form and practice.
The conference will have various seminars on topics such as sport policy and development, youth sport and sports media.
It will finish on Saturday.