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Team GB: united or untied? Contemporary nationalism, national identity and British Olympic football teams at London 2012

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At the London 2012 Olympic Games, a football team representing Great Britain &Northern Ireland will take to the field for the first time since 1972. This research uses the often fractious and acrimonious debate surrounding this issue to gain insights and understandings about contemporary national identity and nationalisms in the United Kingdom. In particular, the objective is to show how these concepts may be influenced, affected or altered by the existence or absence thereof of a Great Britain Olympic football team at London 2012. A virtual ethnographic approach is adopted and a number of websites are identified where discussion and debate has already been undertaken between fans of the home nations teams: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The expectation was that the debate would reflect parallel political arguments regarding the constitutional make up of the United Kingdom. However, it transpired that this was not the case and the association between sporting and political arguments was less fervent and profound than was anticipated. This suggests that there is a degree of satisfaction among fans concerning the footballing and political status quo, particularly now that the way football is organised in the UK reflects the political make-up of the UK more than ever. A number of themes emerge, most notably those relating to anti-Englishness and the common conflation of England and Great Britain. The issue of social class is identified as being significant to these processes and the working class following and ethos that football has is central to this. Comparisons are made with cricket and rugby union to illustrate these points, and the significance of the England team’s continued use of symbols that are usually associated with the UK, such as the anthem ‘God Save the Queen’, is identified as contributing to instances of conflation. In these regards, the work of several theorists is deemed to be helpful in detailing the contemporary significance of nationalism. But it is the ‘banal nationalism’ of Michael Billig that is seen to be most important and appropriate in describing the significance of the home nations teams to continuing constructions of the nation.



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Editor's comments -  [ The above is the abstract from an original PhD thesis; the final publication in the study for the author in pursuit of a doctorate; such works result in the author being awarded a PhD and the title of Dr. by an appropriately accedited University. PhD's are the culmination of a number of years work by the author supervised by two (normally PhD or MPhil qualified) academics and, with the addition of a further appropriately qualified academic (not normally from the same University) as part of a viva-voce examination team. Successful research work at PhD level is designed to add to the body of knowledge in the study area at some level.  

A PhD thesis often forms the foundation for journal articles for the author and leads to further enquiry in the form of what is called post-doctoral research. These works are characterised by comprehensive literature reviews, sometimes traditional yet multiple (and often mixed) methods, interesting if not ground breaking discussions and always directional signs toward further research; they provide for undergraduates not only a model for the possibilities for further study but a gift in terms of references in any given subject areas. ]  


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Reference : Marks, D. (2011). Team GB: united or untied? Contemporary nationalism, national identity and British Olympic football teams at London 2012: PhD Thesis. Loughborough: Loughborough University. Available from:


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Download this file (djmarks2011thesis.pdf)djmarks2011thesis.pdfMarks, D. (2011). Team GB: united or untied? Contemporary nationalism, national identity and British Olympic football teams at London 2012: PhD Thesis. Loughborough: Loughborough University
Last Updated on Sunday, 22 July 2012 13:14  

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