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‘Plastic’ or ‘Fantastic’ Brits? Identity Politics and English Media Representations of “Team GB” during London 2012

Authors:

Emma Poulton ,

Durham UniversityNone
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Joseph Maguire

Loughborough UniversityNone
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Abstract

This article focuses on the dynamic relationship between media-sport and national identity in the context of the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Specifically, attention is given to the construction and representation of members of ‘Team GB’ in the English press in the build-up to and during London 2012, against the backdrop of contemporary British identity politics. Sporting passions can reflect prevailing moods of the wider geo-political climate and often may even reinforce or engender these social currents. A qualitative content analysis is used to examine the ways in which the narrative of ‘plastic Brits’ was (re)constructed and represented through images and texts within the English press during London 2012. A cross section of 6 daily English newspapers was subject to this interpretive analysis from 3 August 2012 (the day of the opening ceremony) through to 19 August 2012 (one week after the closing ceremony). We offer three main emergent findings from our analysis of the press coverage: (1) while present in advance of the Olympic Games, the ‘plastic Brit’ narrative was largely absent during the Games themselves; (2) performances by ‘plastic’ members of ‘Team GB’ were de-amplified in covert discourses pertaining to established-outsider relations: ‘plastic Brit’ successes were celebrated, though not as much as those by ‘true Brits’, whereas ‘plastic Brit’ ‘failures’ were generally relegated to the sidelines; (3) hosting the Games and show-casing the country to the watching world encouraged journalists and politicians alike to (re)interpret and attempt to make sense of modern Britain.
How to Cite: Poulton, E. & Maguire, J., (2012). ‘Plastic’ or ‘Fantastic’ Brits? Identity Politics and English Media Representations of “Team GB” during London 2012. JOMEC Journal. (2), p.None. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18573/j.2012.10230
Published on 01 Nov 2012.
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