Thursday, July 13, 2017

Maurice Roche's "Mega-Events and Social Change"

Maurice Roche is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Sheffield.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Mega-Events and Social Change: Spectacle, legacy and public culture, and reported the following:
Western-originated mega-events like Olympic Games and World Expos are being increasingly affected and challenged by new vectors of global social change in the 21stC. Mega-Events and Social Change aims to illustrate and sociologically analyse three of these dynamics. These are the media shift from mass press and television to the internet; the onset of global ecological crises and ‘green’ policy responses particularly in cities; and the geo-political shift involved in the rise of China and other non-Western world regions. The book is structured into three parts which address each of these social changes and their implications for mega-events in order.

Page 99 is part of the first discussion concerned with the rise of the internet and the challenges this has created for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as a leading mega-event organizer. These particularly include the rise of internet ‘piracy’, or the infringement of copyright involved in unauthorised copying or streaming of live event television. At this point the book explores the IOC’s development of various ‘hard’ (legally punitive) and ‘soft’ (informative) ways of controlling the piracy problem from the 2008 Beijing Olympics onwards.
A few days after the impressive and much-watched Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Olympics an internet site (TorrentFreak) which monitors and comments on legal and non-legal online video-streaming reported that ‘even though it was free to watch on TV all around the world ......over a million people have already downloaded the opening ceremony via BitTorrent’ (TF 2008a). The IOC seems to have registered this report and responded to it.
The IOC’s response was to try to make an example of a notorious Swedish internet company using BitTorrent, namely The Pirate Bay, which played a leading role in infringing its Beijing Games television copyright. It requested assistance from the Swedish government in blocking the company’s operation. Later the government had the co-founders of the company fined and eventually jailed. Since the Beijing Games although the IOC’s media policy has continued this ’hard’ approach it has also developed a ‘softer’ approach aimed at young people, ‘digital natives’. This has involved live video-streaming of the London 2012 Games on the IOC’s YouTube channel, and the creation of a permanent online Olympic television channel.

These developments illustrate the book’s general argument that mega-event organizers now need to continuously adapt and evolve their events and event-contexts if they are to manage the new problems which contemporary social changes throw at them. However these adaptations, even if temporarily successful, by no means guarantee the long-term survival of the mega-event genres with which we are all familiar.
Learn more about Mega-Events and Social Change at the Manchester University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue