Celebration Capitalism and the Olympic Games
Routledge – 2014 – 174 pages
The Olympic Games have become the world’s greatest media and marketing event—a global celebration of exceptional athletics gilded with corporate cash. Huge corporations vie for association with the "Olympic Image" in the hope of gaining a worldwide marketing audience of billions.
In this provocative critical study of the contemporary Olympics, Jules Boykoff argues that the Games have become a massive planned economy designed to shield the rich from risk while providing them with a spectacle to treasure. Placing political economy at the centre of the analysis, and drawing on interdisciplinary research in sociology, politics, geography, history and economics, Boykoff develops an innovative theory of ‘celebration capitalism’, the manipulation of state actors as partners that drive us towards public-private partnerships in which the public pays and the private profits. He argues that the Athens Games in 2004 marked the full emergence of ‘celebration capitalism’, with London 2012 representing its quintessential expression, characterised by a state of exception, unfettered commercialism, repression of dissent, and the complicity of the mainstream media.
Controversial, challenging and forthright, this book opens up a fascinating new avenue for understanding the contemporary Olympics in the context of global capitalist society. It is essential reading for anybody with an interest in the Olympic Games, the relationship between sport and society, or global politics and culture.
"You can’t understand economics, politics, or the way consent is manufactured and dissent is criminalized without reading Celebration Capitalism and the Olympic Games. Jules Boykoff has written "The Shock Doctrine" for anyone who cares about the relationship between sports and society. Combining the intellectual rigor of an academic with the dynamic reportage of a street activist, Boykoff has produced a remarkable book. There are many powerful actors who will hope this book does not command a wide audience. For all our sake, I hope their hopes are dashed." – Dave Zirin, author of Game Over: How Politics Have Turned the Sports World Upside Down.
"In Celebration Capitalism and the Olympic Games, Jules Boykoff builds an innovative theory upon a sturdy political-economic foundation. An economic system based on competition and greed distorts all our activities, often making them ugly shadows of what they could have been. Anyone who wants to understand how capitalism has sullied Olympic sports must read this book, written by a former Olympic athlete turned political science professor who loves sports but is willing to challenge what is being done to them." – Robin Hahnel, Professor of Economics at Portland State University, author Of the People, By the People: The Case for a Participatory Economy and The ABCs of Political Economy.
"Boykoff (Pacific Univ.) argues that the Olympics have become a spectacle of "celebration capitalism," a "public-private partnership" in which the taxpayers assume the risk and wealthy capitalists reap the rewards. Boykoff focuses on the last four Olympics (Athens, Beijing, Vancouver, and London. Summing Up: Recommended." – J. F. Kraus, Wagner College in CHOICE
"This short book demands reconsideration of our understanding of contemporary mega-events, including the Olympics, and poses major challenges to historians. Other readers will no doubt find other challenges; that you will do so is a sign of this book’s importance, openness and richness – characteristics that allow it to open new areas of research and debate and attests to its significance in our field." – Malcolm MacLean, University of Gloucestershire, published in the Sport in History journal
Chapter 1. Celebration Capitalism Chapter 2. A Brief History of Celebration Capitalism Chapter 3. Celebration Capitalism Clicks into Gear: The 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2008 Beijing Games Chapter 4. The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics and the London 2012 Summer Games Chapter 5. Challenging Celebration Capitalism
Jules Boykoff is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Pacific University, USA His writing on the Olympics has appeared in academic outlets like Contemporary Social Science and Human Geography, as well as publications like the Guardian, New Left Review, and the New York Times. He has written across academic disciplines for more than a decade, publishing peer-review articles in fields such as political science, sociology, geography, environmental studies, and history.