Contextualising Sport Spectacles: Exploring Non-Spectacular Aspects of Spectacular Mega-Events

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 5:30 PM
Room: 412
Oral Presentation
Maurice ROCHE , Sheffield University, Sheffield, United Kingdom
‘Contextualising Sport Spectacles:

Exploring Non-Spectacular Aspects of Spectacular Mega-Events’

Mega-events, including sport mega-events like the Olympics and FIFA World Cup, have been increasingly studied over the past decade or more (e.g. Girginov ed. 2012, Tomlinson and Sugden 1998). This growth of  mega-event studies as an interdisciplinary field  has included an area of social scientific and sociological work (Roche 2000, Horne and Manzenreiter eds. 2006, Hayes and Karamichas  eds. 2010, Foley et al 2012, Hiller 2012).  This paper argues that  the further development of the sociology of global mega-events and their implications for social inequalities requires the further development of a ‘contextual’ approach to event analysis.  This approach is concerned with what will be referred to as, on the one hand, ‘event-immanent’ or ‘backstage’ contexts,  and on the other of ‘trans-event’ contexts, particularly ‘legacies’ (Moragas et al eds. 2003, Kassens-Noor 2012).  The paper  is concerned with the heuristic utility   of a ‘spectacle’-based perspective on mega-events  (Kellner 2010).  This perspectives is useful as far as it goes.  However, the paper will argue that a ‘spectacle’ perspective is, nonetheless, essentially  limited and ultimately unhelpful in relation to the sociological exploration of aspects of sport mega-events which are  centrally important in understanding their general social nature, their long-term significance, and their implications for social inequality.  Rather, drawing on work including my book ‘Mega-Events and Modernity’ (Roche 2000) this paper argues that these aspects require an event contexts-oriented perspective, one which is more interested in non-spectacular  (e.g. backstage and long-term) features rather than spectacular features of sport mega-events.    The paper will illustrate this argument in respect of the case of the London 2012 Olympic mega-event.