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Dorte Marie Søndergaard

Talent development – dealing with potentiality

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This article is rooted in an analytical understanding of talent as something you do rather than something you either are or have. Talent is hereby seen as a phenomenon that comes into being through actions, rather than as an individualized, embedded capacity. The actions that create this phenomenon are carried out collectively in special assemblages aimed at developing talents. Our perspective is informed by concepts that can be placed within an overall theoretical framework, often termed new materialism. These concepts help us to focus on the interaction that takes place between an athlete- and a talent development environment which, in their encounter, creates an affect that produces talent. Based on a case study on Jamie, a badminton player, we show that the combined talent/development assemblage is capable of maintaining a talent despite the fact that Jamie has a long-term injury and is completely unable to play badminton for long periods of time. We argue that talent development is a particular way of handling potentiality which, in the struggle to achieve the ultimate goal of excellence, results in a number of affects: it translates potential into a singular talent; it enables the conversion of talent into expertise; it turns doubt into belief; and it impedes other ways of coming into being for the selected athlete. The study challenges the idea of talent development as a neutral event which is placed at the disposal of a budding talent. It provides an insight into the micro politics of talent development. Talent development reveals itself as an intervention with far-reaching ontological, pedagogical and ethical implications for the athlete and for all other actors who are mobilized by a talent/development assemblage.
TidsskriftCulture Unbound: Journal of Current Cultural Research
Sider (fra-til)1-21
Antal sider21
StatusAccepteret/In press - 2020


  • Talent, Talent Development, Assemblage, New materialism, Potentiality, Sports talent, Agential Realism-New Materialism

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