How has our understanding of sport been shaped by sociological ideas? How can the study of sport help sociologists to understand wider society? The sociology of sport is a sub-discipline approaching maturity. This is the first book to stand back and reflect upon the subject's growth, to trace its developmental phases and to take stock of the current fund of knowledge. It offers a `state of the art' review of the sociology of sport and investigates those areas where sport has come to influence the sociological mainstream. The book also examines how the sociology of sport has attempted to engage with a popular readership, and what the consequences of such engagement have been. Focusing on touchstone issues and concepts within sociological discourse such as race, gender, celebrity, the body and social theory, the book assesses the successes and failures of the sociology of sport in influencing the parent discipline, related sub-disciplines and the wider public. It also asks to what extent the sociology of sport can be said to be autonomous, distinctive and distinguished, and challenges students of sport to extend their work out of the narrow confines of the subdiscipline and across disciplinary divides. As the first book to provide a history of the sociology of sport and to clearly locate the contemporary discipline in the wider currents of sociological discourse, this is important reading for all students and scholars interested in the relationship between sport and society, whether they are working in sport studies or in the sociological mainstream.