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

Preface

I often say sociology is a martial art, a means of self-defense. Basically, you use it to defend yourself, without having the right to use if for unfair attacks.

(Pierre Bourdieu in La Sociologie est un sport de combat,
F 2000, directed by Pierre Carles)

Observers of the 'beautiful game' know that football too often does not deserve the name as its participants regularly fail to follow the rules of fair play that Pierre Bourdieu poignantly outlined for the discipline of sociology. As all players and supporters of football know, the rules of fairness are often tested to their extreme, not just a few times beyond the limits of reason. Physical attacks that are meant to hurt and risk the consequences of harm or injury violate the very idea of game playing. What has come under equally public scrutiny recently is cheating, which in some eyes seems to be a more serious infringement of the spirit of sport than violent assaults. Cheating in sociology has not yet received quite the same attention as in the 'hard sciences' where the competition for subsidies, tenure and academic honours has occasionally yielded faked experimental results or swiftly adapted data series. This does not mean there is no cheating in the field. If the distortion of truth is the main corollary of cheating, however, perspectival flaws and lapses probably provide more damage.

Sociology as a discipline aspires to generalise about social structure and agency, yet the language it uses, the theories and the methodologies it is based on are deeply tainted by its Western academic roots. Our concern in bringing out this second volume on football in East Asia has been partly motivated by the general lack of knowledge about sport in non-Western social formations and the wish to bridge the gap between scholarship in the study of sport in society in the East and the West. 'Football Comes Home' was the official slogan of the 1996 European Championships in England. We wanted to use the phrase for this book, as we were well aware of the thousand-year-old tradition of football games in East Asian cultures. Football was played in the East long before civilisation in Europe was initiated by the Roman Empire. This albeit not too sophisticated switch of perspectives unfortunately did not find the consent of our publisher's marketing officers who doubted that the market would be able to cope with the irony.

-xii-

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