Title: What is the significance of the concept of hegemony for understanding sport, politics and international development? Student Number: 1103238
SP2037 – Sport and International Development
Louise Mansfield and Tess Kay
Thursday 20th December
Word Limit – 2000 Word Count - 1829
The international development of sport has been gradually developing since the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris. Baron Pierre De Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics, envisioned the unique opportunity on offer to combine sport with an external appendage, with these games it was the World’s Fair, these were the formative years of the International Olympic Committee (Riordan & Kruger, 1999). The use of sport has developed across the 20th Century, with various new individual sub-disciplines emerging in recognition of world issues, for example it can be used to develop countries, improve international relations and promote peace, while targeting current socio-economic issues (Kay, 2012). One method for explaining the interaction of sport, politics and international development is hegemony. Hegemony was first coined by Gramsci in 1971, his theory centralised around how groups gain power over those in a subordinate class through political and social negotiation, with sport being a prime example of a contrast between those with power and those without (Darnell, 2012). Gramscian ideology was a directly influenced by Marxism, according to Bainer (as edited in Allison, 2005, P. 89) ‘Gramscian influences did much to turn Marxist thinking in [a] more constructive direction’; this therefore effected how Gramsci analysed hegemony within the sporting environment. While hegemony is closely linked to power, power is more closely related to governments and their direct rule over a population, whereas hegemony is an indirect rule, in which dominance is still felt (Yilmaz, 2010). Hegemony can be used to explain not only sport but also the naturalization of individuals and how we respond to an environment. The build-up of institutions noted in the past 50 years can be attributed to the growth of capitalism and the hegemonic society it creates. Capitalism cannot be separated away from economic principles, which in turn creates a relationship between individuals and the social experiences with institutions (Wolf-Meyer, 2011). Hegemony is rife within a capitalist society, the essence of capitalism itself, with a focus on consumerism, production and the privatisation of industries promotes a hegemonic society with the wealth and power being held by the few. Apart from money, Hegemony can also be used to explain the influence of the politics, for example the media. The media in the UK in is extremely efficacious, the influence itself is hard to measure; however a correlation has been shown between the press readership, voting and public opinion. It is conceived that the press, while it doesn’t have a direct effect, can proximate change of political and economic attitude (Gavin & Sanders, 2002). The media in the UK is a perfect example of Hegemony, as the media is controlled by media barons within corporations, for example the Guardian newspaper recently produced an article stating Rupert Murdoch controlled 40% of the voting rights of the News Corporation, with this amount of influence Rupert Murdoch and will be able to push his political ideologies, opinions and perspective on current and past events to the public. An example of how media are able to influence the public’s opinion is gender. According to Willis 1994 (P. 42), the how the athletes are portrayed in the media is not closely related to their athletic identity but to the deviations from the norm and their gender identity (as cited in Birell & Cole, 1994). The application of hegemony is sport can be greatly shown within modern USA sport. Modern sport can be defined by a distinguishable difference between participants and spectators, with standardised conditions and extensive...
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