Football Goes East: Business, Culture, and the People's Game in China, Japan, and South Korea

By Wolfram Manzenreiter; John Horne | Go to book overview
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Football, culture, globalisation

Why professional football has been going East

John Horne and Wolfram Manzenreiter


Introduction

Speaking to an audience in Tokyo in 1989 the late French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu declared 'I think that if I were Japanese I would dislike most of the things that non-Japanese people write about Japan' (Bourdieu 2000:3). Recognising that it had been 'the curiosity of exotic particularism' that had 'inspired so many works on Japan' (Bourdieu 2000:3), he was arguing against the 'particularized reading' of specific analyses, and especially in the case of his own classic study Distinction (Bourdieu 1984). As in a previous collaboration (Horne and Manzenreiter 2002), our aim in bringing a collection of essays together is strongly motivated by the recognition that research about sport in the East Asian region has often been treated in a similar particularised fashion.

The orientalist fascination Bourdieu was alluding to has been an unavoidable component of the publishing frenzy shortly before and after the 2002 Football World Cup co-hosted by Japan and Korea. To the work of freelance writers (Bennie 2002; Moffett 2002; Moran 2002; Perryman 2002; Willem 2002) and academics (Sugden 2002; Sugden and Tomlinson 2003) we should also add our own edited collections. While we recognise the logic of the argument, we strongly reject the charge of exploitation raised by a reviewer who suspected our earlier book to be one more example of the media trend toward 'constructing' mega-events. We concede that the ever increasing amount of literature that follows any Olympics or World Cup nowadays is primarily caused by the mega-event status itself: sports events of truly global reach receive extensive media coverage and thus attract heightened attention on a world-embracing level. The efficacy of this cycle is guaranteed by the allied forces of transnational organisations in charge of media business, corporate finance, and sport administration that we refer to as the allied dominion of the worldwide sports empire. The pervasiveness of this empire of sport is a strong argument why sociologists should not eschew deconstructing its flagship events, e.g. mega-events, or more generally, the way in which cultural products (such as sports) are produced, packaged, transmitted and consumed in a globalising world.

With another acknowledgement to Bourdieu we can also answer the question why we need another book about football in Japan, Korea and China, even though

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