Media construction and representation of national identities during the 1996 European Football Championships
This thesis is concerned with the relationship between national identity and media-sport. More specifically, it investigates the construction and representations of national identities in the media coverage of the 1996 European Football Championships (Euro 96). These are examined through a quantitative and qualitative content analysis of the media texts generated by both the newspaper and television coverage of Euro 96. Attention is also given to the cultural production codes and processes involved in the making of these texts. The study highlights the media representations that surround and underpin sport generally, and football in particular, in the context of concurrent European politics. In examining the identity politics that were evident prior to and during the Championships, consideration is given to the English position relative to those of their European neighbours. While the concepts of 'imagined communities' and 'invented traditions' are of considerable help in making sense of identity politics, it is suggested that Elias' examination of established-outsider relations, and the sociogenesis of more deeply sedimented national character and habitus codes, is particularly useful. These Eliasian concepts, together with those of 'sleeping memories', 'imagined charisma' and 'fantasy shields', are employed to construct an account of the tensions evident in Anglo-British/European relations that surfaced in the media coverage. As such, this thesis is underpinned by a specific approach to the study of media-sport, and national identity, derived from a process-sociological perspective. The content analysis shows that national stereotyping, I/we images, I ) established-outsider identities/relations, personal pronouns, the imagery of war and national habitus codes were prevalent discursive themes in the media coverage of Euro 96. The findings point to the existence of an agenda based around nostalgia and I ethnic assertiveness/defensiveneisns sectionso f the media, with repeatedr eferences to World War 11 and England's World Cup victory of 1966. In this way, media-sport draws upon deep-seated national habitus codes and sleeping memories that are reawakened by contemporary identity politics, especially during international sporting contests. Consequently, it would appear that in some countries, notably England, global sports are being used to reassert an intense form of national identity in opposition to further European integration.