Race, multiculturalism and the 'progressive' politics of London 2012: passing the 'Boyle test'

Aaron Winter

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper will examine the ways in which race, multiculturalism and nation have been constructed, used and evoked in the London 2012 Olympics bid, branding and promotion. The paper will focus on the two-pronged strategy promoting modern, diverse, multicultural Britain and the more conservative traditional, historic Britain, and the tensions and contradictions between these. These are tensions and contradictions which have been exposed and exacerbated by 7/7, recession and riots, as well as the shift in government from New Labour to the Tory-led coalition. The paper will examine the ways in which race and nation have played a role historically and politically in the Olympics, and then examine the place and use of race in three aspects of the 2012 Games: the bid and branding, the opening ceremony and the representation of the athletes themselves. The paper will argue that far from being progressive and inclusive as has been promoted and claimed, what has occurred around London 2012 has been a conservative hegemonic re-articulation of a 'Britishness' that is 'progressive' and includes immigrants and black and minority ethnic individuals based on a logic of integration and performance that does not threaten, criticise or make demands of more traditional visions of Britishness. Moreover, athletes such as Mo Farah have been positioned in such a way as to challenge racism and xenophobia and re-brand Britain as inclusive in narrow terms and at the same time serve as aspirational individual role models through which to set expectations for and make demands of immigrant, black and minority ethnic youth and wider communities.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)137-143
    Number of pages7
    JournalSociological Research Online
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2013


    • Race and racism
    • Multiculturalism
    • Integration
    • British nationalism
    • Olympics
    • Fascism


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