The Performance and Reception of Race-Based Athletic Activism: Toward a Critical, Dramaturgical Theory of Sport

Douglas Hartmann, Alex Manning, Kyle Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

The emergence of an unprecedented wave of race-based athletic activism in the last decade presents the opportunity to formulate a more critical, cultural theory of the significance and socio-political function of sport in contemporary life. We begin by centering athlete agency and highlighting the distinctive performative, communicative, and symbolic opportunities that sport affords. However, athletic activism and social messaging are also structured—and their impacts shaped—by a range of contextual factors and institutional forces as well as sport’s own unique cultural status and ideological claims. We catalog these constraints to capture the larger cultural field of sport as a site of racial commentary and contestation. Situating this multifaceted field of protest and response in its larger social, cultural, and media contexts leads us to argue that sport presents a vehicle not only for the performance of protest (as existing theory might have it), but for the representation and dramatization of social contestation, struggle, and change more generally. The lessons and broader implications of this synthesis are discussed in the conclusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)543-569
Number of pages27
JournalAmerican Journal of Cultural Sociology
Volume10
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.

Keywords

  • Culture
  • Dramaturgy
  • Performance
  • Politics
  • Protest
  • Race

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