‘This Sporting Life is Going to Be the Death of Me’

Sport as a cultural industry

Authored by: Steve Redhead

The Routledge Companion to the Cultural Industries

Print publication date:  June  2015
Online publication date:  May  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415706209
eBook ISBN: 9781315725437
Adobe ISBN: 9781317533986


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This chapter draws on the author’s experience as Chair of Premier Geoff Gallop Creative Industries Taskforce in Western Australia, as well as advising various Ministers in other governments, including Tony Banks in the New Labour government in the United Kingdom, to tease out some of the connections between sport and cultural industries as global society becomes more “accelerated” (Redhead 2004) and “claustropolitan” (Redhead 2011). In some ways, the new watershed for “theory” is the global financial crisis (GFC) of 2007/2008 (Tett 2009) which was followed by a brief “global Keynesianism” (Blyth 2013) before a return to a more generalized, brutish neoliberalism. Many of the works on new directions in theory have been published since the watershed, though much of the work was bubbling under in the early years of the new century. More generally in academic life globally, discipline after discipline has agonized over whether the tenets of yesteryear still hold good, and whether or not we need to return to the beginning or origin of such disciplines (Douzinas and Zizek 2010: 209–26; Lacan 2008). For example, after cultural studies has, in the view of some participants, lost its way (Turner, G. 2012), other founding fathers have asked, anxiously, “what is the future of cultural studies?” (Grossberg 2010). Economists have asked what is there left of economics after the (economic) crisis (Turner, A. 2012). Legal studies has renewed its call for new critical legal theory and for “law and critique” as never before (Douzinas 2009). Critical criminology, including sub-disciplines such as cultural criminology, has found something of a new post-crash international direction (Hall 2012; Hall and Winlow 2012; Winlow and Atkinson 2012a, 2012b). In critical social policy, books like Rethinking Social Exclusion: The end of the social? (Hall and Winlow 2013) are compulsory reading for anyone interested in the “reproletarianization” of the West and global twenty-first-century capitalism’s rush to the cliff edge of “post-catastrophe” (Redhead 2011). Philosophy has mused about whether it still has the power to explain events like the riots in the United Kingdom in 2011 (Hall and Winlow 2013; Hall 2012) and the ongoing Arab Spring in the way that, say, Karl Marx analysed the revolutions in Europe in 1848 and provided ethical and political intervention (Badiou 2012a, 2012b, 2012c, 2012d, 2011, 2009, 2007; Zizek 2012a, 2012b; Badiou and Zizek 2009), reviving, for a new century, the question of the “idea of communism” (Zizek 2013; Douzinas and Zizek 2010) and the “communist hypothesis” (Zizek 2009: 87–157; Badiou 2010).

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