Maclean J (2021) Coaching with Latour: An ontological manifesto for the sociomateriality of sport. Doctor of Philosophy in Education. University of Stirling.
Something that I witnessed. Something that has led to fractured and isolated debates in coaching research. And something that might benefit from being looked at in a different way because very little is known about the ontological dimension of what things do in coaching practices. The aim of this thesis is to develop a relationist ontology of coaching as its own field of practice. The methodology draws inspiration from Latourian actor-network theory (ANT). ANT is a relationist ontology that examines the associations between humans and nonhumans. Five Latourian ANT concepts informed the inquiry into sport coaching: actors, who can be human and nonhuman; networks, which are how actors become assembled; trials of strength, which define what actors do; translation, which describes how actors relate to each other; and articulated propositions, which grant others the ability to speak about an assembled actor-network. An ANT ethnography forms the basis of the fieldwork which consists of observations in two community football clubs over a season. Fieldnotes are the main data gathering method in which I ‘followed the actors themselves’ (Latour 2005a). Actors become relevant as they acted in ways that empirically warranted attention. A sociomaterial analysis is set out which generates ‘anecdotes’ (Adams and Thompson 2016) that are short stories of how social and material relations come together in practices. Each anecdote forms a part in the cartography of coaching which is ordered as follows: (1) moving from The Game towards a field of practice, (2) delegation, (3) quasi-object, (4) interruptions, and (5) manufacturing. Each part is accompanied with a move inspired by Latourian ANT. The significant contribution of this thesis is coaching is a relationist field of practice resting upon five propositions: first, nonhumans are ‘matters of concern’ (Latour 2004a); second, coaching is ontologically different from The Game; third, materials give shape to, and materiality shapes, practices; fourth, coaches intervene with alliances; and fifth, a new sociomaterial competence is necessitated. A more “truthful” territory is articulated so that other coaches can become more object-oriented when translating the cartography into their own practices. An ontological manifesto for the sociomateriality of sport paves the way for a big picture outlook for how academics and practitioners conceptualise, understand, describe, and improve their own coaching.