Contextualised Skill Acquisition: Investigating the Skill and Expertise of Brazilian Footballers Research Completed


Contextualised Skill Acquisition: Investigating the Skill and Expertise of Brazilian Footballers

Lead Author

Luiz Antonio Uehara


University of Otago

Publication Year



University of Otago



Christopher Button

Tel 64 03 479 9122


Mark Falcous Tel 64 03 479 8944


This thesis investigates the role of socio-cultural-historical environmental constraints influencing the development of association football expertise and skill in Brazilian players. Only a small number of studies in the field of motor learning have attempted to address this issue due to the qualitative, interpretive research approach required to analyse socio-cultural themes. However, considering that expertise in sports emerges from the complex interaction of multiple constraints, socio-cultural factors have to be further explored in a contextualised manner so that knowledge in the field of motor learning can be advanced. This thesis presents an interpretive, multi-methods approach to holistically investigate the interacting constraints on the development pathway of Brazilian football players.

In contrast to traditional positivist approaches, this thesis is based on the philosophical assumptions of the interpretive research paradigm and the epistemological and methodological tenets of Bronfenbrenner’s Bioecological Model of Human Development. In addition, to guide and generate data, this programme of work adopts ethnographic strategies of inquiry and related methods, including: contextual analysis, participant-observation, and open-ended interviews. Drawing upon the multi-methodological approach, this thesis proposes contextualised skill acquisition research (CSAR) as a suitable methodological framework to investigate skill acquisition in sport. Using this new approach, key findings show that the development of expertise in Brazilian footballers is a function of informal, even aversive variables ranging from the microsystemic level under the context of pelada, mesosystemic level under the context of home and federated clubs, exosystemic level under the context of poverty and macrosystemic level under the context of samba, capoeira, and malandragem. 

The objective of this thesis is to promote methodological possibilities to investigate effects of socio-cultural constraints on expertise acquisition in sport. As such the thesis offers new theoretical and epistemological insights to the development of the proposed contextualised skill acquisition research framework. In doing so it seeks to build bridges across the methodological boundaries between sociology and motor learning in the first instance, rather than offering a unifying approach for the whole field.

Keywords: Contextualised; Skill; Expertise; Acquisition; Brazilian; Football


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March 17, 2015