'The Love of My Life': The Meaning and Importance of Sport for Female Fans

In her Doctoral Inaugural Lecture, Stacey will explore the meaning and importance of sports fandom for women. Most existing research on sports fans – especially football fans in England – has centred upon male supporters, and so the experiences of female fans have been largely marginalized. Stacey’s research therefore aimed to bring women’s experiences as sports spectators, both past and present, to the fore.

In her lecture, Stacey considers how notions of inauthenticity typically surround female sports fans, who may feel that they are regarded as inferior supporters. However, her findings demonstrate that sport is also central to the lives and identities of many women. Drawing upon 85 semi-structured interviews with female football and rugby union fans, Stacey develops a preliminary model of female fandom. She examines two female fan types: ‘hot’, committed fans and ‘cool’, more casual supporters, and describes some of the characteristics of female fans who typically inhabited these fan types. Her findings suggest that female football fans were much more likely to fit the ‘hot’ fan category than their rugby counterparts, and she argues that this can be largely attributed to the combined impact of the effects of social class and cultural differences between the two sports. These findings therefore show the diversity of supporter styles exhibited by female fans.

Stacey’s doctoral research has been a contribution towards addressing the dearth of empirical research on female sports fans, as well as the relative lack of comparative studies on fans of different sports. To conclude, she expresses the hope that her PhD thesis will prompt others into further research in this area more generally and put women’s experiences on the sports research agenda.

Whither Marx in the Business School?

In his Doctoral Inaugural Lecture, Armin will explore how Marx has been received in the business school. During the student demonstrations of December 2010 we witnessed the return of a curious bookishness, made visible by the Book Block that brought large cardboard versions of their favourite books to the demonstrations to use as shields. One picture shows a student holding up Jacques Derrida’s Spectres of Marx as a shield as he is being struck by a policeman’s baton. To many of us working in the university this might seem surprising. With more than one third of UK students studying marketing, finance or management in business schools, are there really students left who hold up books to symbolically resist police violence with the sheer power of thought? And haven’t the ghosts of Marx already been purged out of the contemporary university, especially now that education has become a commodity? Shouldn’t our students be holding up copies of Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom, and rejoice at the new market in higher education and the freedoms this brings? How could these ghosts of Marx help students protect the university from capitalism?

To answer this question, Armin will explore how Marx has been received in the business school. For many the business school is that part of the university that is closest to business and finance. Often it is seen to be a trade or professional school meant to train the managers and bankers of tomorrow. And while there is certainly some space for the teaching of business ethics or corporate social responsibility, by and large the question of the purpose and use of business and finance has been resolved. Larger questions about the meaning of life or about how we might all want to live together are better left to the humanities and social sciences. So if the business school is the handmaiden of modern capitalism, is there any space at a all for critique in the business school, is there any space to challenge the lure of cash that means every other business student wants to become either a banker or a consultant? Is there anybody holding up a copy of Karl Marx’ Das Kapital in the business school?

The answer to this question is yes, and Armin will show that there have been at least three phases in the reception of Marx in the business school. From very early on the business school was at odds with the university, because the university was striving for a social good, and looked down on the ‘world of affairs’. 100 years ago ‘capitalism’ was still a dirty word in the university. So while some frantically tried to establish the business school as a legitimate part of the university, others were reading Marx to find more reasons to keep it excluded. This first wave of the reception of Marx in the business school articulated a Marxist critique of management: it was seen as a handmaiden of capital, and could therefore be rejected as much as capitalism itself. A second wave rejected this understanding of management, by asking: don’t managers have more autonomy in their daily lives, and don’t they also have the ability to do good? This more sober and practical understanding of management did not necessarily forget about Marx, but it was more interested in understanding how management works on an everyday basis.

Curiously, during this wave capitalism was soon forgotten about, and management was by and large the only focus of study; and because managers were not seen to be restrained by capital, business schools could teach them to do good also. Yet soon it emerged that this understanding of management was not good enough: managers weren’t all doing good, nor could they be made to do so. This prompted the third wave of the reception of Marx in the business school: suddenly capital was a symptom that the business school could not make sense of any more, and once again it turned to Marx to understand it. This last wave is currently ongoing, with a return to Marx in the business school heralding a new critical phase for the business school. It is in this context that we can also imagine business students using the ghosts of Marx to defend their education.


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