Social Inclusion – Social Exclusion: Physical Exercise as Means Between Strengthening Individuals and Integration into Collectivities

The article

Social Inclusion – Social Exclusion: Physical Exercise as Means Between Strengthening Individuals and Integration into Collectivities

is now online [her for the DOI], before it is available in the printed version of the The International Journal of the History of Sport


Physical exercise, beyond the mere physical aspect, is very much a social construct. But it is as well a means of constructing the social and as such it can be used in different ways. The contribution, taking a broad comparative perspective, will reflect on two major possibilities: the one may be called social inclusion as subordination and the other can be looked at as a matter of social inclusion by strengthening individuals. This also allows an understanding of new dangers of exclusion in the era of liquid modernity.


About the real realities of the presence …

… not the realities of a proposed future in the making,

There we are talking about digitalisation, the abundance of today’s society and zero-marginality, of course often or not, considering, admitting, commiserating the poverty, asking even for changes of the distribution and policies of distribution, allowing the “inclusion”. Looking honestly at the other sides, we should surely register also the “exclusion of mindfulness”, the fact that the reference we use is actually itself exclusive, establishing a real- and mind-set that evokes and even is excluding. In his book Mike Davis, looking at the Planet of Slums, we find on Page 49 the decisive statement:

“Most displaced … are social outcasts, excluded from formal life and employment.”

 – important to note that he is quoting an aid NGO.

The attempts to arrive at a really integrated approach, understanding concisely the intimate link, are at least today too often caught in a certain kind of “positivity/Positiveness of the future” – be it by looking at the Precariat as the New Dangerous Class
In sum, all these positive approaches are overestimating – for one or another reason – the somewhat futurist view, proposing some new normal, and easily forgetting that fact that for many life is still actually still “the normal we thought to be overcome fro some time already”, the suggested “historic, early normal”.
Sure, development is rapid – we find also his statement in Davis’ book:
Angola, only 14 percent urban in 1970, is now a majority urban nation. Most of its city-dwellers are both desperately poor and almost totally ignored by the state, which in 1998 was estimated to spend only 1 percent of its budget on public education and welfare. The unending civil wars in Colombia likewise have added more than 400,000 IDPs to Bogota’s urban poverty belt, which includes the huge informal settlements of Sumapaz, Ciudad Bolivar, Usme, and Soacha.
And although I think we are too often look at crude data which do not really say anything about life and what it is about here is another figure, taken from Davis’ book:
If UN data are accurate, the household per-capita income differential between a rich city like Seattle and a very poor city like Ibadan is as great as 739 to 1 – an incredible inequality.
A gentle reminder to the readers of the blog — whenever the modern and “postmodern” world is looked at on these pages, taking the “positive outlook” the author is well aware of the ore “positivist perspective”, if you want: the story told by the reality as it is shown by the far too many real lives standing behind every “single figure” that amounts to the brute reality of global capitalist development that is by no means flat and where talking about Postcapitalism as a Guide to Our Future is really more science fiction and should realistically not be seen as vision.

Merry Go Around

Yes, it is the time of the year again … – the time to get easily mixed up, or mixing up things and times when Mary goes around, making us thinking

Maybe my mind is playing tricks on me but I could’ve sworn

Merry Christmas I meant …, it is the time of joy and happiness … and of giving. Where we do not give to the “loved ones”, we make donations to … to those who are not loved, not by anybody, at least not by us, taking the liberty of buying our peace of mind … – ploing, ploing … the cents drop into the charity’s tin, one piece for “them” and piece for “us”, for our peace of mind.

Marry Christmas, join in … walking around the one morning, a few days only left to the holy day my mind could be in peace, I was “safe” so to say – it was too early for the collectors of the good, the good collectors and could be wondering, while my thoughts wondered around: SALES, SALES, SALES … clearly telling us to join …, now even for the special price: reductions … reductions of prices here, reductions of the income and worming conditions of those who produced the commodities … somewhere on the globe … . It is that part for the party who truly is homo oeconomicus, buying without warm thoughts of the loved ones but with the true thoughts of the times: look for the best offer, be rational actor on the market.

Merry Christmas … –

It is about entering the new temples:

The archetype of that particular race in which every member of a consumer society is running (everything in a consumer society is a matter of choice, except the compulsion to choose – the compulsion which grows into addiction and so is no longer perceived as compulsion) is the activity of shopping. We stay in the race as long as we shop around, and it is not just the shops or supermarkets or department stores or George Ritzer’s ‘Temples of Consumption’ where we do our shopping.[1]

Merry Christmas … – I see, while walking these early hours of the day, those who are waiting for the charities collections being opened for them …, those sleeping rough in so many entrances of those shops that will later open their doors for the pre-Christmas sales …, yes, many of those shops have something for everybody …, even if it is only the sheltered areas that offer some comfort for the night.

– I feel a bit like ridiculing myself or the matter, but still “I have to do it”, the wee bit I can: and I carry the bag, instead of allowing the noise, coming from the comfortable “4×4-suitcase”, disturbing them even more – or is it about hiding myself, hiding the comfort, the comfort of having slept in a hotel-bed …?

Merry Christmas for those who are protected from all this for instance in London’s noble corners:

for the price of a house in Heritage Park you will buy your entry to a community. ‘Community’ is these days the last relic of the old-time utopias of the good society; it stands for whatever has been left of the dreams of a better life shared with better neighbours all following better rules of cohabitation. For the utopia of harmony slimmed down, realistically, to the size of the immediate neighbourhood. No wonder ‘community’ is a good selling point. No wonder either that in the prospectus distributed by George Hazeldon, the land developer, community has been brought into focus as an indispensable, yet elsewhere missing, supplement to the good restaurants and picturesque jogging courses that other towns also offer.[2]

– all this

entrusted to hidden TV cameras and dozens of hired gun-carrying guards checking passes at the security gates and discreetly (or ostentatiously, if need be) patrolling the streets.[3]

Dear Mary, my little Christmas celebration that morning: a coffee and a Simit: the latter from a small shop, its smell lifting my spirit which was admittedly a bit drowsy after the nearly 20 hours flight and the 3 hours sleep that I got before heading on. It was a real Simit – it reminding me of the campus-restaurant I visited every morning when I worked many years ago at ODTU-university in Ankara: so nice to get them immediately from the oven, “baked with love” and brought to me with tenderness. And yes, I enjoy the espresso – the “Italian coffee” that can be bought every where now – machine-made, admittedly that is what it was also in the bar, around the corner of my Roman domicile …, and I don’t know exactly the difference between here and there – perhaps it is simply in the mind, defined as mindset by the way we stand here and there in the queue … – the shop here a kind of corridor, inviting to move faster; the counter in the bar inviting to slow down, to take a breath in the small group standing, mixing, chatting … – the difference between express-o and espresso …

And while enjoying both, I return with one thought to Salzburg: the very local shops in the Getreideasse now pushed aside, away even by the global retailers that unit the colours … – does this thought come to my mind because I see one “speciality bakery”, with the one stall …, now having a second stall … and perhaps …

A bit later I have time, sitting in the train for the last leg of the journey … Merry Christmas …, no high-speed train but a local train, inviting to adapt to its speed: slow down … it is direction to Leipzig – and I remember the delicious roles we got every morning when I studied there, in a country that does not exist anymore, not anymore “as such” … .

– I am listening to Rousseau, the audiobook of his Confessions, the text reading in book 1:

I never thought money so desirable as it is usually imagined; if you would enjoy, you must transform it; and this transformation is frequently attended with inconvenience: you must bargain, purchase, pay dear, be badly served, and often duped. I buy an egg, am assured it is new-laid- I find it stale; fruit in its utmost perfection’tis absolutely green; a girl, and she is tainted. I love good wine, but where shall I get it? Not at my wine merchant’s — he will certainly poison me. I wish to be universally respected; how shall I compass my design? I must make friends, send messages, come, go, wait, and be frequently deceived. Money is the perpetual source of uneasiness; I fear it more than I love good wine.

Christ, what a mess … – Merry Christmas, Marry Christmas, Mary Christmas …

Merry-go Round


[1]            Bauman, Liquid Modernity: 73

[2]            Bauman, Liquid Modernity: 92

[3]            Bauman, Liquid Modernity: 93

Sports – Urbanisation and Social Stratification

Leaving teaching and coping with life aside (well, who can say the latter is easy in a world of which modernity is not just liquid but where liquidity seems to wash away human rights on all levels – I am not writing this because I am in China!! Or perhaps I am writing it because I am here, seeing also many unexpected “white washers” coming here with there incredible “suggestions”), I am preparing the presentation for the end of this week:

The annual conference of the International Journal of the History of Sport (IJHS), taking place at Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics, Nanchang, China during the weekend of 27 – 28 November 2015. The conference is jointly organized by the IJHS and the School of Sports at Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics, China. The core themes are around Urbanization and Social Stratification.

Now I face the challenge to look for the key (I guess that is the meaning of key notes). And I am wondering if this is not very much about overcoming the limited understanding that remains frequently left out when talking about inclusion and also urbanisation.

  • The one aspect is that we discuss inclusion too often without (sufficiently) considering integrity as dialectical/relational issue and part and parcel of inclusion – and of course, with this we have to look also at the contradictions.
  • These may highlight, coming to the second aspect, that urbanisation is not just about space. Perhaps space is as such even the least important aspect, the multiple identities being the foundation that merges into the melting pot as which societies and parts thereof are frequently seen – but while we talk about such melting pots we still, and increasingly act along the ideas of gated communities.

Good stews need a recipe – it is not just throwing different stuff into a pot; and it is not about trying to separate them afterwards again …

Well, some desk work to be done, not allowing much exercise though …. – but such thinking is a bit like chess, and chess is sports, right?

Guess you can read at some stage about it in the International Journal of the History of Sport.

Death of civilization….

I received a mail …

Il giorno 13/set/2014, alle ore 14:30, …

It is a death ,..

Actually I received the mail after arriving in Berlin for a planning meeting of a network on precarity …

I follow the article – thinking that it is a somewhat unusual death notice, though I know the person who sent it. The article is speaking about the library closures going on in the UK, it could and should speak bout the library closures in the global north-west …

… and the moral …?

Never allow dead people making politics or policies …:-(

I rely by adding another point – referring to something I read earlier in another mail:

Libraries ,,doors to knowledge and haven of peace ,,,what is there (in the libraries) not to like. For me ? To make a choice ,,,hate to do as I am greedy about certain things ( eg : books) Having to return them ,,

I personally would have a huge library, part of it destroyed by my parents: you could name it a “private book burning” though in that case they intentionally drowned them. Part of it actually drowned in my Irish estate – d e to frost damaging some pipes; others still existing somewhere I could not store them anymore. Just a side remark on the latter: I offered a huge store to the university library in Cork – for free: interesting unpublished stuff s well, from EU (or EC) times: documents, project documentation, project analysis …. They declined: No space, but not least “it is not in English” (just in alien languages as Dutch, French, German, Italian, Russian, Swedish).

Today the same university library in Cork, as many others, stores the books somewhere, one has to order them and they will be available next day, perhaps even the afternoon of the same day.

Sure, there is a problem of space – but there is a problem of building cages, prisons … I have been very privileged at times: One of the universities where I studied provided all year round access (I think it had been closed just one day, they called Christmas). Overnight and holiday limitations applied: only one entrance open. It had been in a way just one huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge room, probably one entire floor of the University in Bielefeld. All departments; sure “we” have had “our” area: economics, law, sociology; but in some way we shared the “room” with physics, quantum mechanics, nuclear biology, impressionism, renaissance architecture, philosophy of Mencius – things we sometimes (many times) did not know how to spell, we did not know that they existed. But as much as there had been in the 1840s a spectre hunting Europe, there had been the spectre of universal knowledge hunting many of us in such a library. I encountered this spectre also when I worked (did I ever work? Didn’t I only study throughout my life?), so many books I didn’t understand, but being there and begging for respect, though I should have been the begging one: asking humbly to be part of this affluence of knowledge …

… there we come to the tricky point, the im-materialisation of the spectre, emerging as spirit.

Marx said once (something as) The idea turns into a material force if it gains the support of the masses (bad memory, bad translation – I remember only the German original:

Die Idee wird zur materiellen Gewalt wenn sie die Massen ergreift

Another, very special experience when I studied (or worked …, or played, or worked on the project of changing the world?) in Amsterdam. I remember once finding myself in part of the law library, asking one of the librarians a silly question. Actually, silly had been that I asked as he wanted to see my library card which I handed over. He looked at it and said

Hm…, actually you are not allowed to be in this area …. – but …, well for these documents you have to go to the third shelve …, actually I will come with you and give you the box with the commented drafts of the legislation ….

On another occasion I visited the library for anthropology, looking for a special book. I walked along the Prinzengracht (if I remember correctly, may be it had been the Herrengracht) and looked for house number (lets say) 378. Walked along, saw house number 374, 376, 380, 382 — strange, walked back, and the house number 378 had been a house without number, I entered: I saw “glimpses of a library”: a sign with opening hours, the name … . “Glimpses” because it had been just one of the beautiful “private houses” now being used as library. And the library had been only really coming to the fore after I left the corridor – indoors one could walk into house 376 – just the ordinary rooms but full of books. Sure, systematic, but at the same time due to the architecture not: one section ended …, and had been continued in another room, perhaps not the next because that had been used for another subject area.

In such places you CAN CHOOSE; and nothing has to be returned because it cannot be taken out – all remains OURS: written by us, inherited by us, read by us, carried on by us.

I won’t tell you about my stays in the library for theology, for philosophy (sitting under a beautiful “Rembrandt-like “ paining, a “reading cushion” and on it the second addition of Spinoza, in Latin, in front of me (and admittedly the Latin language added to the pleasure, though caused as ell some pain; and I will not expand on being more or less the only reader for several weeks in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam: arts …. history, techniques, epochs, great artists, exhibitions … (well, I could have gone to look at van Rijns “Night watch” as break – but going there before, being on my own just with security, had been more fun…) – sitting there in the reading room: computer, fountain pen, book from the library, note book … I remember a gentleman with two kids walking along (it is one of these “show libraries”, but usually people watched from the balcony). The guy, standing with the kids next to me, pointing at me, I could not hear, don’t know if he really said

… You see, this is what they did and how lived in those old times ….

I still buy books, and I get your point

what is there (in libraries) not to like – For me ? To make a choice .. hate to do as I am greedy about certain things ( eg : books). Having to return them …

But try to get my point: I do not know if I really want to buy more books, want to own them, instead of sitting in a good library, reading, browsing, possibly meeting people, talking with them about what they read, what I read, what we read.

It is a privilege – and it is THIS privilege that makes me coming back to Frances: his camminare insieme.

In a completely different context a Hungarian friend of mine wrote

But it is a big question whether spirituality (and genuine morality) ought to have a basis in faith (or religion).

And she did not mean spirituality in the strict sense, but something of empathy, solidarity, justice …

Her answer simply

I don’t think so

And my answer is the same. I replied to her

I think that being only based in this, it will fail – there must be the material force …

And one of the material forces is the provision of common spaces, common ways on which we can walk together. The church, and other orders, provide that; however, “the public” – after undermining its own basis – cannot do so anymore, lost its own ground. – Slowly but surely it pushed people out of the public realm, calling it enlightenment, but actually meaning reducing them on instruments of instrumental reason, torsos calculating utilities …

As I wrote earlier:

Sure, there is a problem of space – but there is a problem of building cages, prisons …

Books, being imprisoned in storerooms warehouses, libraries … closed because of lack of money … – the revenge lurking around the corner: prisons that have to accommodate those people who could not access education, who had been excluded from society, who lived in a society that actually did not exist anymore, that had been reduced by liberals, by the right. Reduced by the liberals? Well, that is exactly it when what Thatcher did when programmatically stating:

There is now such thing as society.

I guess analytically she had been right; but she did not mean it that way, she meant it as program ….


Berlin, I walk to the meeting point …, passing memories, memorials.

Walking along the Spree where the life of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht found its end, a memorial plaque saying

The defiance of life and the brutality against human beings show people’s ability to inhumanness. It can and should not be a means to conflict resolution of any kind.[1]

Passing presence and future ….

Paul Farmer, a medical anthropologist stating:

Their sickness is a result of structural violence: neither culture nor pure individual will is at fault; rather, historically given (and often economically driven) processes and forces conspire to constrain individual agency. Structural violence is visited upon all those whose social status denies them access to the fruits of scientific and social progress.

Surely all this also being part of those things that have to be discussed when we talk about war, standing up against it


[1]            Original

Die Missachtung des Lebens und die Brutalität gegen den Menschen lassen die Fähigkeit der Menschen zur Unmenschlichkeit erkennen. Sie kann und darf kein Mittel irgendeiner Konfliktlösung sein und bleiben.