Staff Profile


Dr James Brighton

Senior Lecturer

School: School of Psychology and Life Sciences

Campus: Canterbury Main Campus

Tel: 01227 923102

Profile summary

Dr James Brighton is a Senior Lecturer in the Sociology of Sport and Exercise and a member of the Sport and Body Cultures (SBC) research group at Canterbury Christ Church University, UK. His theoretical and empirical research interests lie in disability studies, the sociology of the body and the social and cultural analyses of sport and fitness. Methodologically, he is interested in interpretive forms of qualitative inquiry including ethnography, life history and narrative analyses. His current publications explore wheelchair bodybuilding, body modifications amongst athletes with spinal cord injury and how disabled athletes can become sporting cyborgs. 

Research and knowledge exchange

Research projects:

James is a researcher for the Centre for Sport, Physical Education and Activity Research (SPEAR). In 2012 James was involved in the NHS Change 4 Life (Primary) programme and the Lloyds TSB National School Sports Week.


James has successfully supervised students on the MSc by Research in Sport and Exercise Sciences and the Msc in Physical Education and Physical Activity by Research.

He has successfully co-supervised PhD's on the gendered experiences of Korfball, embodied experiences of female gym users and the implementation of a CrossFit programme for children. 

Teaching and subject expertise

James teaches on sociological and research orientated modules across Sport and Exercise Science, Physical Education and Sport and Exercise Science, Sport and Exercise Psychology and Sport and Leisure Management degrees. He is the module leader for:

Level 4: Sport, Culture and Society

Level 6: Re-thinking Sport, Health and Body Cultures

James teaches on:

Level 5: Sporting Identities and Lifestyles

Level 5: Research in Sport and Exercise 2

Level 6: Individual Research Project (Supervisor)

James is also the Level 4 year tutor for Sport and Exercise Science students.

Professional bodies:

British Sociological Association (BSA)

British Sociological Association Auto-ethnography Study Group

British Sociological Association Sport Study Group

Sport and Body Cultures Research Group (CCCU)

International Sociology Association (ISSA) Member

External activities

International Conference Presentations:

The Northern American Society for the Sociology of Sport: Virginia Beach, Virginia, 2019. “It’s like throwing gasoline into the fire and seeing what happens”: Autonomic Dysreflexia in spinal cord injured, male, wheelchair rugby players.

Cluster for Research into Coaching (CRiC) 5th International Conference: University of Worcester, 2019. Challenging ableism: Implications for coaches of disabled athletes (Workshop)

4th International Conference for Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise: University of British Colombia, Vancouver, 2018. “You’d make a good Raspberry James”: Researching disabled sporting embodiment

The Northern American Society for the Sociology of Sport: Publicly engaged sociology of sport, 2016, Tampa. Wheelchair bodybuilding: Challenging ableism or reproducing normalcy?

The international Sociology of Sport Association: World Congress, 2015, Paris Descartes University. (Dis)abled athletes as the “ambassadors of transhumanism”

5th Annual International Conference on Normalcy 2014: More questions of the human, University of Sheffield, 2014. (Dis)abled athletes as the “ambassadors of transhumanism”                                                                        

4th International Conference for Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise: Turning point moments in the field, 2014, Loughborough University.  (Dis)ability by design: Narratives of body perfectionism amongst wheelchair athletes

Sporting females past, present and future, Leeds Beckett University, September. Disability sport as enabling or (dis)abling? A life history of a female Paralympian                                                                                     

International conference of disability sport: Changing Lives, Changing Perceptions? Coventry University, 2014(Dis)abled sporting bodies & narratives of cyborg perfectionism.                                                                     

British Sociological Society (Sport Study Group), Canterbury Christ Church University, September 2013. Researching (dis)ability in sport: Reflections from an (able)bodied ethnographer.

Publications and research outputs


Powis, B., Brighton, J. & Howe, P.D. (eds.)(forthcoming). Researching Disability Sport. London: Routledge. 

Brighton, J., Wellard, I. & Clark, A. (2020) Gym Bodies: Exploring Fitness Cultures. London: Routledge.

Journal Articles

Inckle, K., Sparkes, A.C. & Brighton, J. (forthcoming) Who is “Us” in “Nothing About Us Without US”? Rethinking the Politics of Disability Research. Disability Studies Quarterley. 

Brighton, J., Townsend, R., Campbell, J. & Williams, T.L. (in press) Moving beyond models: Theorizing disability in the sociology of sport. Sociology of Sport Journal.

Sparkes, AC., Brighton, J., and Inckle, K. (2020) ‘I am proud of my back’: an ethnographic study of the motivations and meanings of body modification as identity work among athletes with spinal cord injury. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health. DOI: 10.1080/2159676X.2020.1756393

Sparkes, AC. and Brighton, J. (2019) Autonomic dysreflexia and boosting in disability sport: exploring the subjective meanings, management strategies, moral justifications, and perceptions of risk among male, spinal cord injured, wheelchair athletes. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, DOI: 10.1080/2159676X.2019.1623298

Brighton, J. (2018) Disability, Spinal Cord Injury and Strength and Conditioning: Sociological Considerations. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 40 (6), 29-39.

Sparkes, A.C., Brighton, J. and Inckle, K.  (2017) ‘It’s a part of me’: an ethnographic exploration of becoming a disabled sporting cyborg following spinal cord injury.  Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise & Health, 10 (2), 151-166

Sparkes, A., Brighton, J. and Inckle, K.  (2017) Imperfect perfection and wheelchair bodybuilding , Sociology: challenging ableism or reproducing normalcy?  Sociology

Recent Book Chapters:

Brighton, J. (2019) Growth and adversity in disability sport following spinal cord injury. In: Wadey, R., Day, M. & Howells, K. (Eds). Growth Following Adversity in Sport. London: Routledge.

Brighton, J. & Williams, T. (2018) Using interviews to explore experiences of physical disability in sport and physical activity. In: Medcalf, R. & Mackintosh, C. (eds.) Researching Difference in Sport and Physical Activity. Palgrave.


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Last edited: 05/12/2017 03:57:00