Sport and the 'National Thing': Exploring Sport's Emotive Significance

Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics 24 (11):1956-1970 (2021)
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This article critically details how the work of Slavoj Žižek theoretically elaborates on the links between nationalism and sport. Notably, it highlights how key terms, drawn from Žižek’s work on fantasy, ideology and the Real (itself grounded in the work of Jacques Lacan), can be used to explore the relationship between sport, nationalism and enjoyment (jouissance). In outlining this approach, specific attention is given to Žižek’s account of the ‘national Thing’. Accordingly, by considering the various ways in which sport organizes, materializes and structures our enjoyment, the emotive significance of sport during national sporting occasions is both introduced and applied. Moreover, it is argued that such an approach offers a unique and valuable insight into the relationship between sport and nationalism, as well as an array of social and political antagonisms.

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Jack Black
Sheffield Hallam University


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