Sport and the neoliberal conjuncture: Complicating the consensus

Michael Silk, D L Andrews

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section

23 Citations (SciVal)


We begin this book by locating our writing in what are very interesting times. We are but a stone's throw into the new millennium, yet we are in a moment dominated by perpetual war; financial crises; enhanced security; terror threats; the seeming ubiquitous celebration of the free market; an increased emphasis on individual responsibility for all facets of everyday life; a rampant media and culture industry that entertains us and educates us in how to act, behave, and live; higher education systems that increasingly act as handmaidens for government and corporations; and the downgrading and diminished import of any public and social services (health services, education, transportation, and so on). As popular cultural forms-both in terms of popularity and in the sense that Stuart Hall (1981) proposed, with respect to how they function as a continuing tension (relationship, influence, and antagonism) to the dominant culture-sporting practices, experiences, and structures are far from distinct from this context. As Giardina (2005, 7) proposes, contemporary sport finds itself sutured into and through this context; "global (cultural) sporting agents, intermediaries, and institutions actively work as pedagogical sites to hegemonically re-inscribe and re-present (hetero)-normative discourses on sport, culture, nation, and democracy throughout an ascendant global capitalist order." Thus, this book offers an insight into how sport, as a component of popular culture, acts as a powerful educational force that, through pedagogical relations and practices, organizes identity, citizenship, and agency within a neoliberal present (Giroux and Giroux 2006). We begin by thinking through the current neoliberal moment, both in the United States and, to some degree, beyond (specifically the United Kingdom and Canada). It is our contention that neoliberalism has its ideological and figurative core in the United States-hence the focus of this project. Nonetheless, it equally possesses a truly international reach. This signposts our future work examining the relationship between sport and neoliberalism in a variety of national contexts (settings that differ in terms of geography, level of economic development, and mode of governance, and thus the precise way that the sport and neoliberalism relation is enacted). Having spatially and historically located the trajectory of neoliberalism in its seemingly relentless march toward becoming an ascendant ordering logic of contemporary societies, we then begin to sketch how such processes have been manifest in sport, suggesting that much work is needed to begin to understand the variety of ways that neoliberalism (in its various mutations) has been both understood and mobilized within sporting contexts. This leads to introducing each of the chapters solicited for this text, contributions that begin to fill the void in our understandings of the articulations between the heterogeneous complexities of neoliberal ideology, political praxis, pedagogy, and sport.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProject Muse 4
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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