Bridging Sociology: Teaching MindSport

Bridging Sociology


The aim of this project is to create a new academic field, the sociology of mindsport. This includes developing a new undergraduate module: Sociology of Sport, Mindsport and Leisure. The sociology of mindsport fits academically between sport studies and leisure studies.

This work is informed by literature reviews on bridge, chess and poker. It considers how to define and conceptualise mindsports, as well as the societal challenges and benefits of a more inclusive approach to mindsport. The project began in 2017 and is ongoing.


BAMSA, University of Stirling

Journal Articles

Bridging Sociology

Snellgrove, M.L. and Punch, S. (under review) ‘Between Seeing and Unseeing: Managing Familiarity and Strangeness in Research Contexts’

Academic Blogs

Bridging Sociology

Snellgrove, M.L. (2019) ‘Taking Bridge Seriously’, Discover Society

Punch, S. (2020) ‘Bridge: A MindSport for All’, Leisure Studies Association

Conference Papers

Bridging Sociology

Punch, S. and Snellgrove, M.L. (2019) ‘Keep Bridge Alive: Challenges and Opportunities’, Brain and Mind: Promoting Individual and Community Wellbeing International Conference, Catholic University of Croatia, Zagreb, 12 December 2019

Stakeholder Presentations

Bridging Sociology

Punch, S. (2020) Bridge: A MindSport for All (BAMSA) Journey, Presentation to Bridge 2 Bridge, Suffolk Contract Bridge Association (SCBA) and English Bridge Education and Development (EBED), 25 June 2020

Punch, S. (2020) Keeping Bridge Alive Through Research, Presentation to Western District Bridge Clubs, Stirling Court Hotel, 6 March 2020

Snellgrove, M.L. and Punch, S. (2019) Keep Bridge Alive Global Network Meeting, Norwegian Bridge Federation, Oslo, October 2019

Punch, S. (2019) Sociology of Bridge Update, World Bridge Federation (WBF), Wuhan, China, September 2019

Punch, S. (2019) Keep Bridge Alive Global Initiative, American Contract Bridge League Educational Foundation (ACBLEF), Memphis, March 2019

Punch, S. (2019) Keep Bridge Alive Campaign, Opening Ceremony for Mixed European Teams, European Bridge League, Lisbon, February 2019

Punch, S. (2018) Establishing a New Academic Field on Bridge, World Bridge Federation (WBF), Orlando, Florida, 22 September 2018

Punch, S. (2018) Bridge and Social Science, European Bridge League (EBL) National Bridge Union (NBO) Seminar, Belfast, 2-4 February 2018

Punch, S. (2017) Sociology of Bridge, Bridge and Science Committee, World Bridge Federation (WBF) Lausanne, Switzerland, 10 November 2017

Punch, S. (2017) Sociology of Bridge Research, Teacher Trainer Workshop, Scottish Bridge Union (SBU) Education, May 2017

Examples of Stakeholder Presentations

Keep Bridge Alive Global Initiative (March 2019)

Keep Bridge Alive Global Network Meeting (October 2019)


Bridging Sociology

The Setting Trick, Interview with Samantha Punch by John McAllister, Episode 7, 19 November 2018


Bridging Sociology

Lecture Materials

Punch, S. (2019) Mindsports and Leisure Communities: The Case Study of Bridge, Undergraduate Module on Place, Belonging and Identity, University of Stirling: Stirling, 5 February 2019

Word Clouds

Based on Bridge Winners post asking players to describe bridge in three words

Additional Information

Bridging Sociology

Sociology of Mindsport as an Academic Field

The sociology of mindsport is a new and innovative area of research and teaching. While there is considerable research on chess and some on poker, there has been very little written across the social sciences on bridge. There is currently no university module that examines sociological concepts, theories and themes that facilitate an understanding of the complexities of mindsports, including their social roots and societal importance.

Given that mindsports are cultural and social practices that cannot be separated from social concerns in contemporary society, it is timely to introduce such a module to university teaching. It is important for students to investigate the meanings and motivations of participation in mindsports in relation to social and global divisions. By exploring the complexity of the social and cultural contexts of mindsport in relation to work, family and everyday life in contemporary society, the development of the sociology of mindsport will bring to light some of the major controversies and issues that confront leisure and sport studies today.

Sociology of bridge

The sociology of bridge is about understanding how the bridge world works: what motivates players, opportunities for skill development and the dynamics of the game. BAMSA projects are researching interactions and relationships within the mindsport, wellbeing, transferable life skills, health and social benefits, intergenerationality, youth participation, digital approaches and the growth and sustainability of the global bridge community. By carrying out research that highlights the benefits and skills that playing bridge provides, we can develop an evidence base from which to persuade governments, communities and schools to consider investing in introducing more bridge into primary and secondary schools, universities, workplaces and community centres.

In order to achieve this evidence base, the BAMSA research team is undertaking a sociological exploration of bridge including the social and non-technical aspects of the mindsport. The card game of bridge involves overlapping boundaries between work, leisure, gender studies, gerontology and mindsport. It is an interdisciplinary field that draws on literature from a variety of academic areas.

Each of the BAMSA studies will be supervised or led by Professor Punch, who has more than 20 years’ experience of undertaking research with families, children and young people, and who is an international bridge player in her own right. The global BAMSA network ensures the research is directly linked to the work of the European Bridge League (EBL), the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL), the South Pacific Bridge Federation and the World Bridge Federation (WBF).

Sociology of mindsport

The academic study of the sociology of mindsport explores sociological theories, debates and controversies regarding the social, cultural, economic and political aspects of leisure and sports studies. It enables a critical understanding of the connections between leisure, mindsport and sport which are considered alongside their relationship to work and family life.

Mindsports, such as chess and bridge, focus on cognitive aspects of play and competition, structured by rules and goals. An academic understanding of mindsport considers both professional and recreational levels undertaken during ‘free time’ or work time; chosen for pleasure, relaxation, employment or other emotional satisfaction. The growth of mindsports can bring families, local, national and international communities together via shared goals, with positive implications for healthy ageing and intergenerational socialisation.


Mindsports involve intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, while also reflecting power and status. They are socially constructed, relative to the social, political and economic conditions that exist in any given society at any given time.

As sociologists, BAMSA researchers explore the potential of mindsports to contribute positively to mental and physical health, wellbeing and social connection, and investigate their contribution to the formation of self and identity. They examine the barriers and opportunities regarding mindsport participation and the role of mindsport in relation to nationalism, the economy, health policy, globalisation, digitalisation, commodification and inequalities. They consider the place of mindsports within contemporary, globalised societies and analyse the extent to which they reflect social divisions in wider society.