The role and impact of commercialism in sport and the consequences of its transformation into the entertainment industry

by Samuel Keith Duncan

Institution: Swinburne University of Technology
Department: Faculty of Life and Social Sciences
Degree: Masters
Year: 2009
Keywords: Australian football; Australian Football League; Commercialisation; Community; Economic aspects; Folk culture; Popular culture; Sport
Record ID: 1047537
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.3/61028


This thesis is a study of the role and impact of commercialism on sport, taking AFL football as a case study. More specifically, it is concerned to assess the consequences of the transformation of sport from an item of folk culture into a multi-billion dollar business within the entertainment industry. This transformation is seen more broadly as the triumph of ‘economic rationalism’, the doctrine that to more rationally organize society all social forms and all social relations should be based on market principles and be subject to market imperatives. At the heart of this analysis is the notion of the community and its relationship with culture and indeed the role that culture plays in the interactions and bonds between citizens. A fundamental concern of this thesis is the consequences for the community as culture is transformed into nothing more than an item of entertainment. To understand the role of ‘folk culture’ and ‘popular culture’ within the community a number of theorists have been drawn upon, including members of the Frankfurt School, Antonio Gramsci, and Pierre Bourdieu. Their ideas are expounded in the first chapter, and deployed in the chapters following. In conducting this research the relationship between sport (as an item of popular culture) and the community became strongly evident, as did the consequences of commercialism’s increased role in sport  – sport is now, more than ever dominated by economic criteria and as such the interests of the community surrounding these 'games' are now subordinated to commercial interests. As this thesis will show, the ultimate consequence of this is that genuine community has been undermined and made substantially weaker.