Assessing the sociology of sport: on national identity and nationalism
journal contributionposted on 24.06.2015 by Alan Bairner
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On the 50th anniversary of the ISSA and IRSS, Alan Bairner, one of the most influential scholars to study the socio-cultural relationship between sport and nation, reflects on the dynamics of national identity and nationalism in sport. Because the sociology of sport has too often taken for granted concepts such as nation, nation-state, nationality, national identity and nationalism, an ongoing need has been to engage debates about those concepts in mainstream nationalism studies. Because the most powerful form of national performance today may be seen in sport, understanding tensions between not only the national and global, but also between the nationstate and the historic nation and between nationality and national identity remain key challenges. Complex dynamics of competing identities may be seen in exemplar studies of sport in Spain relative to Catalonia and the ‘united’ (or not) qualities of the United Kingdom relative to Ireland, Scotland, Wales and, indeed, England. In the future, it is posed that the study of sport and nation must move beyond reliance on media analysis and received notions of ‘imagined community’ and seek more access to and understanding of elite performers and organizational actors.
- Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences