Making the Sport Consumer: A Genealogical Analysis of Sport Management Research Texts
Horner, Matthew I. (Matthew Ian) (author)
Newman, Joshua I., 1976- (professor directing dissertation)
Proffitt, Jennifer M. (university representative)
James, Jeffrey D. (Jeffrey Dalton) (committee member)
Giardina, Michael D. (committee member)
Florida State University (degree granting institution)
College of Education (degree granting college)
Department of Sport Management (degree granting department)
In this dissertation, I examine how a particular mode of thinking has come about—that is, how an increasingly number of sport management scholars have conceived of sport-based inter-/trans-actions as "consumption" and those who engage with sport thus as "consumers." The question is important as the academic discipline seems to parallel the sport industry, contracting upon a version of sport that is overwhelmingly competitive, commercialized, professional, highly-spectacularized, and mass-consumed. Despite the isomorphic acceptance of market-based approaches to sport management, the field has rich practical, pedagogical, and theoretical roots in education, health, and recreation from which the present consumer-model stands as a radical departure. To resolve this ostensible contradiction, it is first necessary to understand how the present has come to be; thus, an analytic tool is needed to assay the present state of the field, evaluate its trajectory, and trace its effects. Intellectuals have long debated the merits of sport. Many agree that sport can be beneficial when it is played (cf. Zeigler, 2007). However, when sport is engaged in other ways (i.e., spectating a competition, purchasing sport paraphernalia, or asserting allegiance to a team/player), the societal benefit is a bit more opaque, drawing proponents for its cultural and economic significance and critics who challenge sport’s highly spectacularized form, rampant commercialization, and flattening effect on society, for example. Despite this tension, much of the research published in the leading sport management journals is uncritical, adopting deductive-nomothetic approaches to inquiry that produce generalizable, managerially relevant findings with clear commercial implications (see Frisby, 2005; Newman, 2014; Zeigler, 2007). At the same time, idiographic research from alternate (post-modern) onto-epistemic paradigms has been marginalized, as has scholarly inquiry in the once vibrant educational tradition (ibid). Adopting a Foucauldian perspective, I conducted a genealogical analysis of sport management research texts published in four leading journals—Journal of Sport Management (JSM), Sport Management Review (SMR), European Sport Management Quarterly (ESMQ), and Sport Marketing Quarterly (SMQ)—to examine how scholarly discourse has inscribed the field over the last 30 years. I explored how a growing faction of sport management researchers, as expressed in scholarly texts, have come to conceive sport-based engagements as the meaningful consummation of autonomous consumer choice, while also defining what consumer outcomes are possible and acceptable. Ultimately, my aim was to deconstruct the operation of power within the field that exerts itself as a diffuse code of culture governing the production of truth and knowledge. The epistemological premise for the current research project hinges on two genealogical concerns: 1) how particular versions of the sport consumer and sport consumption are made to appear true and solid; and 2) how, in sport management research discourse, certain ways of thinking about the sport consumer have become dominant over others. In pursuit of these aims, an alternate narrative of sport management research is proposed, one that recounts the historical conditions that have advanced the field towards "tautological inefficaciousness" (Newman, 2014, p. 607). Throughout this work, I demonstrate how a sport consumer knowledge culture has rendered sport engagements and identities in ways that bolster market-based approaches to how "sport" and "management" are theorized and practiced.
consumer culture, discourse, genealogy, political economy
November 17, 2016.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Sport Management in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Joshua I. Newman, Professor Directing Dissertation; Jennifer M. Proffitt, University Representative; Jeffrey D. James, Committee Member; Michael D. Giardina, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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