The Business Of Sports And The Manufacturing Of Global Social Inequality

Por: Wolfram Manzenreiter.

Esporte & Sociedade - v.2 - n.6 - 2007

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The business of sports and the manufacturing of global social inequality Wolfram MANZENREITER Modern sport has been epitomised as the most successful export of Western civilisation, being of even wider appeal than democracy, egalitarianism and capitalism. While for some factions within the world’s societies, the meanings of representative political participation, equal employment opportunities, and even basic human rights are often the subject of heated debate, there seems to be almost unanimous consent to the beauty of sporting victory, the value of a gold medal, or the fascination of a new record. However, the celebration of sport as universal cultural property disguises the political economy of sport in contemporary society and the more down-to-earth corporate interests behind the spread of Western sport. First of all, both the wealth of nations and their inhabitants have great impact upon the diversity of sport opportunities, the quality of sport facilities and the issue of access rights. This is the case because a viable sport infrastructure requires a stable allocation of resources, either by public or by private bodies, and the arrangement of these players ultimately decides whether sport is rather regarded as public policy or private business. Even though mass sport politics and the sport industry are distinctive fields, they are actually mutually dependent and linked to each other by various channels, most noteworthy sport governing bodies and the media. Hence the development of sport into a key market for global capital accumulation, which started in line with the rise of the current neo-liberal paradigm in the early 1980s, left its marks on the non-profit sector of amateur sport. Dealing with the numerous social, political, and economic relationships and processes – including centres and peripheries, global labour migration, multinational corporations and transnational media industries, regionalism and nationalism, commercialism and consumerism – case studies from the field of large-scale sport events and football, the flagship of global sports, illuminate the interconnectedness between sport and the agents, structures, and processes of global capitalism.

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