Olympic Games, Mega-Events and Civil Societies

20 Feb

Olympic Games, Mega-Events and Civil Societies

Globalization, Environment, Resistance

Dr. John Karamichas, Lecturer in Sociology, has co-edited (with Dr. Graeme Hayes; Aston University) the volume, Olympic Games, Mega-Events and Civil Societies,published recently by Palgrave Macmillan.

This volume explores sports mega-events; their social, political and cultural characters; the value systems that they inscribe and draw on; the claims they make on us and the claims the organizers make for them, the spatial and ethical relationships they create; and the responses of civil societies to them.  Sports mega-events are not simply sporting or cultural phenomena.  They are also political and economic events, characterized by the generation and projection of symbolic meanings and by social conflict.  Because of their peculiar spatial and temporal organization, they raise questions about the relationships between global cultural and economic flows and particular local and national spaces.  Because of their evolutionary characteristics, they ask us to consider not simply the time of the event but also the effects of the event on the long-term direction, implementation and consequences of public policy.

This volume is designed to fill a major lacuna in the literature on sports mega-events.  Despite the inherently controversial nature of the conditions under which sports mega-events are staged, they have given rise to relatively little on the way of analysis addressing the importance of globalization, environmental performance, claims to sustainable development, and social and civic responses from either sociology or political science.  This book therefore focuses on a series of specific characteristics of these events, characteristics which appear to us to be increasingly central to their staging and design, and of our understanding of their functions.  These are the questions of globalization, be it political, economic or cultural, and particularly in its neo-liberal guise, and the effects of mega-events on urban infrastructural development; of the increasingly corporate nature of sports mega-events, and their consequent social impacts; of the role of mega-events in showcasing and promoting sustainable development programmes, but also the impacts of mega-events on the physical environment; of their elite nature, and of the relationships between political elites and publics; and finally, especially given their promotion as popular cultural celebrations, of the nature of democratic participation in their design, and the subsequent responses of civil societies to mega-events.

The contributors come from different academic disciplines; from sociology and from political science most obviously, but also from architecture and design, from management and urban studies, not to mention from social movements themselves.

Dr. John Karamichas is currently adding finishing touches to The Olympic Games and the Environment.  A book that examines the environmental credentials of Olympic Host cities and the opportunities afforded by hosting the Games towards the ecological modernization of the host nation by using perspectives offered by environmental sociology. It also sets out projections for the environmental legacy of London 2012; scheduled for publication by Palgrave Macmillan on 15 July 2012.

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