Sports City: A critical analysis of Melbourne’s sportscape

John, Alistair (2015) Sports City: A critical analysis of Melbourne’s sportscape. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Adopting an urban entrepreneurial approach of selling the city of Melbourne as an attractive place in which to locate global footloose capital, the State Government of Victoria has, over the past three decades, strategically invested public funds into major sporting events. The aim of this thesis was to examine the production, representation, consumption, identification and regulation of Melbourne as a neoliberal ‘sport city’. A (con)textual analysis of newspaper articles was conducted in conjunction with interviews of influential cultural producers of the sport city – most notably state Premiers, Members of Parliament, CEO’s of Public Sports Trusts and journalists. Four case studies were employed to examine ‘urban entrepreneurialism’ and the re-regulating state. Characterising the ‘sport city’ as a cultural artefact, Melbourne’s sportscapes were inserted into the ‘circuit of culture’ to illustrate that the ‘sport city’ does not passively emerge but rather is actively produced, represented, consumed, identified and regulated as various interest groups engage in a struggle to (re)construct their social world. Adopting Pierre Bourdieu’s concepts of capital, field and habitus along with Loïc Wacquant’s understanding of neoliberalism as the reengineering and redeployment of the state, I illustrate the use of elite sport as a form of cultural glue to re-regulate the city in favour of market-like mechanisms that benefit the urban and political elite. The Victorian state has successively re-regulated this neoliberal urban entrepreneurial strategy, often preventing dissident groups from resisting neoliberal activities, through its monopoly over the legitimate use of symbolic and material violence.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1504 Services
Historical > FOR Classification > 1506 Tourism
Current > Division/Research > College of Sports and Exercise Science
Keywords sport, urban entrepreneurialism, neoliberalism, events, stadiums, National Tennis Centre, Olympic Games bid, 2006 Commonwealth Games, Formula One Grand Prix, cultural artefacts, culture, politics, public sociology, local activism, history, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s
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