Minhyeok Tak thinks of his PhD as his last apprenticeship before becoming an independent scholar.
“I have been able to develop my own independent course of study, in effect designing my own pathway to further develop my knowledge and skills.”
Minhyeok, who won the 2015 Young Scholar Award for the European Association for Sociology of Sport (EASS), is delving into the world of sports betting and match-fixing for his doctorate.
Looking specifically at the 2011 match-fixing scandal in the Korean Professional football league, he is studying the sociology of sport, working under the co-supervision of Professor Steve Jackson, the past President of the International Sociology of Sport Association and Dr. Michael Sam, a leading expert in sport policy.
“I am interested in the way that match-fixing is framed as a matter of individual morality and the contexts where sports combine with the betting industry for economic motivation.
“I refer to this combination as the ‘sports-betting complex’ or the ‘sports-betting regime’, an institution that defines the roles of relevant actors and prescribes rules they should follow, advancing certain socio-cultural practices as a result.”
Minhyeok believes sociologists have to respond to social problems – when problems arise in society they should be examined and investigated so members of society can understand what is happening, how to solve it and how to prevent it happening again.
He has found Dunedin to be a “perfect environment” for his study. He came to the University of Otago to work with Professor Jackson and the other internationally recognised staff at the Otago School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences, and stayed for the research intensive atmosphere and the great support among other incentives such as the global connections of the school.
Plus the campus. “When my brain stops working, I go out of my office and take a walk around campus… I like the fresh air, various shapes of clouds, birds singing, and the lawn in front of the clock tower building, which all magically straighten up my thoughts.”
His wife, Yoonjin has joined Minyheok, having recently been granted a PhD scholarship to study sports coaching at the School.