Institutional position of athletes within Sport Movement in Montenegro (starting point-not to be quoted)

Research problem

The central issue of the Sport Movement in Montenegro is vulnerable position of athletes. Sport Movement in Montenegro does not recognize either formal or informal structured pooling into institutions which will serve to protect athletes during their sporting career and encourage them to be active part of the decision making process within particular sport. Athletes are constantly facing numerous obstacles in order to synchronize education (work) with their sporting career on one the hand and to be involved into the decision making process on the other hand.


Theoretical framework

Considering concept of democracy or having in mind different models of it, there are three ways that one society accepting democratic standards could apply: competitive, focusing on voting procedure as a basis for establishing power role within political system;  participative, focusing on active participation for all within decision-making process; deliberative, resolving conflict via rational discussion.[1] For any democratic process, representation is a crucial and defining point. Manin sees representative democracy as a correlation of democratic principles (people government/ruled by the people) and aristocratic principles (government/ruled by elite), were elective decision-makers should be socially different from those who elected them.[2]  Pitkin talked about formalist concept, that focuses on relations via forms (authoritative or accountable) and substantive, concept which is focused on a content (in what way representation is taking part in).[3]

At the national level, political constellation is very significant since, majority of socialism structure influence remained regarding governance mechanisms and decision-maker representation within sport organization, especially on the national level.[4] About societal situation in Montenegro in the years after independence, Djurkovic warned that “conflicts over the constitution, the position of the church, state symbols and the relationship between the government and the opposition represent fertile breeding grounds for new clashes.”[5] In a much divided society regarding question on Montenegro independence[6], post-referendum period characterized by strong nationalization and further division among various nationalities, ethnic or religion groups.[7] Countries within transition process from socialist (non-democratic) ruled during the post-Cold War period with a hybrid political regime. In the way a ‘’competitive authoritarian” system has emerged combining the elements of democratic and authoritarian governance (choice is conditioned by remaining in power) with election procedures coined by violation in democratic procedures.[8] Leading political establishment reshaped former communist party and retained a political and overall monopoly.[9] In practical terms Bieber noted that leading political position were used for adopting the electoral rules which enabled strong campaign with overall spending 10:1 over opposition parties.[10] Continuous transition period could be explained via Anna Grzymala-Busse’s concept of “rebuilding the post-communist Leviathan,” symbolizing the exploitative reconstruction of state by political elite further underpin through following:  “the degree to which governing parties can obtain private benefits from public state assets is constrained by robust competition: opposition parties that offer a clear, plausible, and critical governing alternative that threatens the governing coalition with replacement”.[11]

Although it can be said that voluntary organizations are seen as inseparable component of a democratic process contributing to the social activism and individual development, similarly to above, Michels saw voluntary organization as ones characterized by the “iron law of oligarchy”.[12] Later on, Lipset discussed about factors that leading to the oligarchic governance of voluntary organizations in terms of monopolistic approach (decision-makers) on one hand and passivity (other stake holders) on another hand.[13]  Bearing in mind needs to further disclose power relations listed above, relaying on the main objective, it will be taken into consideration structural challenges within the coexistence of various stakeholders within sport organizations. The level of their (stakeholders) mobility/activity and existence of the regulatory mechanism would be a basis for comprehending sources of obstacles for achieving higher involvement level for all stakeholders from specific sport into a decision-making process. Important to note, involving all stakeholders into a decision-making process would be followed by adoption of the organizational framework within particular sport organization, but it could also lead to creation of new conflict.

Based on prelude, the main concern would be to identify stakeholder’s obligations/responsibilities within Sport Movement and more further to understand (to show) following, regarding governance: a) how various stakeholders (sport subjects) are being organized; b) are they aware about their interest enough; c) what is their position on overall interest. Seen from social system perspective, there are two diametrically positions in relation of governance and stakeholders relation nature: a) a consensus theory- sport organization is form from similar-beliefs individuals; b) social conflict theory- any position within sport organization is a fertile soil for conflict among interested parties.[14] Regulatory methods regarding power distribution could be various. Parsons noticed three most likely methods: a) coerced compliance; b) compliance based on threatening higher position stakeholder to others with losing existing privileges; c) voluntary compliance.[15] Observing different nature of conflicts, Dahrendorf position `conflict as a structural effect` seems to be in line with power relations within sport organizations.[16] Nature of the sport organization could be characterized by structure which enable interaction among interested parties (along with ones that there are excluded from decision-making process) and could lead to the potential conflict. Oglesby pointed out that in the work of Dahrendorf, conflict within particular social group arise between ‘those position holders exercising authority and those position holders excluded from authority’[17] where authority is defined as the legitimate right to acquire and use power’.[18] On the other hand, a fundament way to control not only the nature but also the flow of the conflict lays on distribution of the roles within decision-making process. In the pyramidal sport system, highly influenced by domestic political culture defined as a participatory,[19] the ones at the lowest hierarchical position will be ‘’forced’’ to compromise within the ones at the upper position.  On the contrary, in societies with longer democratic procedure, it should be noted that in addition to the globalization process, high level of individualization contributed to increasing not only the appearance of social conflicts but also changes in society itself.[20] Taking into account previous as a starting premise, it is not in favor for systematically solution, people rather decide individually to resolve conflicts with their own capabilities. It is seen as individual overrides group mobility.[21] Within those societies and specific social groups, there is more likely that conflicts will be resolved by voluntary compliance based on bargaining and persuasion process. As an addition to the already difficult position, athletes are not even included in the formally structure of the European sport system ranging from IFs to the NSFs (and clubs at the grassroots level).[22] Taking into account previous finding, excluded sport subjects (athletes and entourage) and their needs are forced to obedient via systematic coercion. This seems a bit paradoxical, since democratic societies tend to support voluntary compliance process based on persuasion not on coercion compliance.[23] Noted constellation among sport subjects could only arise distrust with high level on instability.[24]

Research aims (proposed approach)

Research approach should rely mainly on ontological and epistemological assumptions closely related with social background, more precisely realist conflict theories.[1] In this study it will be introduced mixed method approach using a multi-phase research design. Mixed methods are increasingly being used as they allow researchers to have multiple worldviews and paradigms,[2] while enabling the researcher to use a variety of methods to address complex research problems.[3]

To follow up and in order to adequately respond to a given topic,  intention is to process within 4 areas:

  1. Recognize different nature of the sport organizations based on the main classification (Sport organizations vs. Organization for conducting sporting activity).
  2. Legally binding norms derived from the Law on Sport and other supporting acts as a foundation for setting up governing mechanisms within SM.
  3. Level of the state interventionism within SM based on the above legal norms- What is the current concept of the autonomy in the field of sport?- from who and how
  4. Institutional position of athletes within SM. Ways to improve their position within SM structures.

This approach is reflecting fluid nature of sport within overall society and taking into account various structures of organizations (NGO, private, governmental) and their governing mechanisms. Finally, results of the research would serve as guide for institutional positioning of athletes within SM (more opportunity with more responsibility) taking into account specificity of particular sport system.

[1] Bhaskar, R. (1975). A Realist Theory of Science. Leeds: Leeds Books.

[2] Gelo, O., Braakmann, D., & Benetka, G. (2008). Quantitative and qualitative research: Beyond the debate. Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science, 42, 266 – 290

[3] Mertens, D. M. (2009). Research and evaluation in educational psychology: Integrating diversity with quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

[1] Allern, E.H., & Pedersen, 2007, “The impact of party organizational changes on democracy”.

West European Politics, 30:1, 68-92.

[2] Manin, B., 1997, The principles of representative government. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[3] Pitkin, H.F., 1967, The concept of representation. Berkeley: University of California Press.

[4] Montenegrin Prime minister is the president of the Basketball Federation of Montenegro.

[5] Djurkovic, M. (2011).  Montenegro: Headed for New Divisions? Conflict Studies Research Centre, UK Defence

Academy, Balkans Series, 07/11, p.11.

[6] Morrision, K. (2009). Montenegro: a modern history. London: IB Taurus &Co.

[7] Brubaker, R. (1996). Nationalizing states in the old “New Europe“- and the New. Ethnic and Racial Studies 19/2: 411-437

[8] Levitsky, S. and Way, L. (2010) Competitive Authoritarianism: Hybrid Regimes after the Cold War. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

[9] Goati, V. (1996) Stabilizacija demokratije ili povratak monizmu? Treća Jugoslavija sredinom devedesetih godina. Nikšić-Podgorica: Unireks.

[10] Bieber, F. (2003) ‘Montenegrin Politics since the Disintegration of Yugoslavia’, in Florian Bieber (ed.) Montenegro in Transition: Problems of Identity and Statehood, pp. 11-42. Baden-Baden: Nomos Publishers.

[11] Grzymala-Busse, Anna (2007) Rebuilding Leviathan: Party Competition and State Exploitation in Post-Communist

Democracies. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

[12] Michels, R., 1949, 1962, Political Parties. New York: The Free Press.

[13] Lipset, S.M. Trow, M.A. and Coleman, J.S., 1962, Union Democracy. New York: Anchor


[14] Oglesby, C. (1974). Social Conflict Theory and Sport Organization Systems. Quest -Illinois- National Association for Physical Education in Higher Education- 06/1974; 22(1):63-73. DOI:10.1080/00336297.1974.10519807

[15] Parsons, T. (1966). `The political aspect of the social structure and process`, In David Easton (ed), Varieties of Political Theory, Englewood Sliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

[16] Thiel, A. (2003). Soziale Konflikte, Transcript Verlag, Bielefeld. ISBN 3-933127-21-1

[17] Ibid., p. 65.

[18] Parsons, T. (1966). `The political aspect of the social structure and process`, In David Easton (ed), Varieties of Political Theory, Englewood Sliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

[19] Almond, G.A., & Verba, S. (1963). The Civic Culture: Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP.

[20] Dahrendorf, R. (2004). Der Wiederbeginn der Geschichte, C.H.Beck, Munchen.

[21] Dahrendorf, R. (1992). Der modern soziale Konflikt. Deutsche-Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart.

[22] European Commission (1998). The European Model of SportConsultation Document of DG X.

[23] Brown, C., & Cassidy, R. (1963). Theory in physical education. Philadelphia: Lea and Febiger.

[24] Spady, W.G. (1973). Authority, conflict and teacher effectiveness. Educational Researcher.


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