Sport and National Identity in the Post-War World

Sport and National Identity in the Post-War World

Sport and National Identity in the Post-War World

Sport and National Identity in the Post-War World

Synopsis

What is the relationship between sport and national identity? What can sport tell us about changing perceptions of national identity? Bringing together the work of established historians and younger commentators, this illuminating text surveys the last half-century, giving due attention to the place of sport in our social and political history. It Includes studies of: ¿ English football and British decline ¿ Englishness and sport ¿ Ethnicity and nationalism in Scotland ¿ Social change and national pride in Wales ¿ Irish international football and Irishness ¿ Sport and identity in South Africa ¿ Cricket and identity crisis in the Caribbean ¿ Baseball, exceptionalism and American Sport ¿ Popular mythology surrounding the sporting rivalry between New Zealand and Australia Sport and National Identity in the Post-War World presents a wealth of original research into contemporary social history and provides illuminating material for historians and sociologists alike.

Excerpt

The relationship between sport and national identity is complex and multifaceted. Arguably it has become more so since the end of the Second World War as the far-flung empires established by Britain and other European powers in the nineteenth century disintegrated and independent states legitimised by the principle of national self-determination were created. These developments tended to raise levels of national consciousness across the globe. Nationalist ideologies remain an important factor in determining the course of world politics, not least when they are frustrated or otherwise unfulfilled. While this has been happening, however, various countervailing developments have become apparent. In many parts of the globe, for example in Western Europe, regional co-operation between groups of nation states for economic, military and political purposes has been a major feature of the post-war experience. More generally, the emergence of a powerful corporate multinationalism, along with the increasing tendency for media output to transcend territorial boundaries, threatens to submerge individual awareness of national identity in an ocean of globalised consumerism. In addition, people of almost all nationalities have become more mobile. Mass migration, in pursuit of freedom from danger or economic self-advancement, has become commonplace.

These changes have provided the context in which sport, both within and between nations, has developed across the second half of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. Nation states, multinational corporations and diasporas have proliferated simultaneously. It is a confusing and complex backdrop, ever shifting at someone else's behest, like the electronic advertising boards that now routinely surround the field of play when nation meets nation at football. In these circumstances, the relationship between sport and national identity surfaces in a variety of forms and it is the intention to explore some of the most important of these in the chapters that follow.

The idea, for example, that sport in general, or one sport in particular, creates or fosters a sense of nationhood is important, not least because international competition generates a seemingly endless number of occasions when nations are embodied in something manifestly real and visible. . .

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