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Title: Life in the shadow of the 2012 Olympics : an ethnography of the host borough of the London games
Author: Lindsay, Iain
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2013
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On 6th July 2005 the London Olympic bidding committee won the right to host the 2012 Olympic Games. Some seven years later London’s Olympic venues were built on time, Team GB accumulated an unprecedented medal haul and no significant security incidents occurred. These outcomes facilitated an understandable positive evaluation of the 2012 Games. It would be churlish not to be positive; Olympic venues experienced during Games are breathtaking. World records and Olympic contests are exciting. Olympic narratives that bond competitor and audience alike are inclusive and unifying. However, the prevalent belief that Olympic hosting provides unambiguous benefits to local communities is less sound. The evaluation of this assumption provides the focus for this inquiry, it follows French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu by considering that ‘one cannot grasp the most profound logic of the social world unless one becomes immersed in the specificity of an empirical reality’ (1993, p. 271). Accordingly, this research contrasted the rhetoric and reality of 2012 Olympic-delivery via an ethnographic inquiry in the Olympic borough of Newham. This location is defined as a ‘non-place’ wherein the majority of the Olympic restructuring and events occurred. This research addresses Olympic-delivery issues of inclusion, exclusion, power relations, ideology and identity, in doing so it argues that the relatively short Olympic-delivery time-frame necessitated a divisive segregation between ‘Olympic’ and ‘non-Olympic’ Newham. Furthermore, it is argued that 2012 Olympic-delivery was orientated towards the needs and goals of Olympic migrants, of various description, rather than enhancing the lives of those living within a community that was rife with crime, poverty and deprivation. Consequently, this research considers that the Olympic milieu disseminated the capitalistic norms and values to global, national and local audiences. The outcome of such processes facilitated a renegotiation of place-identity and place ownership within Newham that was orientated toward attracting a future affluent populace whilst concomitantly vilifying the pre-Games community. This research concludes that such attempts to re-mould Newham into a post-Olympic utopia where prosperous and educated families, to follow the Newham council strap line, ‘live, work and stay’ are based upon the short-sighted assumption that creating an aesthetically pleasing entertainment location is tantamount to creating a desirable location for sustainable family life.
Supervisor: Armstrong, G. Sponsor: Brunel University
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Mega events ; Olympics ; Urban studies ; Urban regeneration ; Globalization