1st Edition

Olympic Exclusions Youth, Poverty and Social Legacies

By Jacqueline Kennelly Copyright 2016
    178 Pages 22 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    178 Pages 22 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Olympic Games are sold to host city populations on the basis of legacy commitments that incorporate aid for the young and the poor. Yet little is known about the realities of marginalized young people living in host cities. Do they benefit from social housing and employment opportunities? Or do they fall victim to increased policing and evaporating social assistance? This book answers these questions through an original ethnographic study of young people living in the shadow of Vancouver 2010 and London 2012.

    Setting qualitative research alongside critical analysis of policy documents, bidding reports and media accounts, this study explores the tension between promises made and lived reality. Its eight chapters offer a rich and complex account of marginalized young people’s experiences as they navigate the possibilities and contradictions of living in an Olympic host city. Their stories illustrate the limits to the promises made by Olympic bidding and organizing committees and raise important questions about the ethics of public funding for such mega‐events.

    This book will be fascinating reading for anyone interested in the Olympics, sport and social exclusion, and sport and politics, as well as for those working in the fields of youth studies, social policy and urban studies.

    Introduction: These Games are for Who? Olympic claims to help the young and the poor 1. Modernizing Aspirations and Legitimation Rationales: Why the Olympics claims to help the young and the poor 2. Olympic Housing Legacies in Vancouver: Clearing the streets with short-term shelters 3. Olympic Housing Legacies in London: Gentrification and displacement of working class communities 4. Olympic Employment Legacies in Vancouver and London: Gender inequality, precarious jobs and low wages 5. Policing and Security in Vancouver: Making the city look good when the world is watching 6. Policing and Security in London: Dispersal orders, racial profiling and protecting tourists Conclusion: These Games are Not For You: Olympic promises, Olympic legacies and marginalized youth in Olympic cities


    Jacqueline Kennelly is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. She is the author of Citizen Youth: Culture, Activism, and Agency in a Neoliberal Era (2011) and the co-author (with J. Dillabough) of Lost Youth in the Global City: Class, Culture, and the Urban Imaginary (2010). She recently co-edited (with S. Poyntz) Phenomenology of Youth Cultures and Globalization: Lifeworlds and Surplus Meaning in Changing Times (2015). Her work has appeared in multiple international academic journals, including Sociology, the British Journal of Criminology, Feminist Theory, Ethnography, Visual Studies, Gender and Education and the British Journal of Sociology of Education. 

    'In Olympic Exclusions: Youth, Poverty, and Social Legacies Jacqueline Kennelly focuses on those in the Olympic city who all too often are ignored. Zeroing in on marginalized populations—youth, the homeless, the poverty-stricken, and working-class people—she shows us how some people are neither invited to the Olympic party nor privy to the Games’ social legacies. Drawing from extensive fieldwork on the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the 2012 Summer Games in London, Kennelly’s nuanced ethnographic inquiry explores the complex, lived experiences of everyday people before, during, and after the Olympic Games. Given that the processes of exclusion typically transpire far from the white-hot glare of the media spotlight, this book is especially important. Olympic Exclusions exposes the grim underbelly of the Olympic spectacle. This book is a vital contribution that helps us better understand how ordinary people are affected by the Olympic Games in the twenty-first century.' - Professor Jules Boykoff, Department of Politics and Government, Pacific University in Oregon, USA

    'Olympic Exclusions provides eye-opening accounts of the impact of the Olympic Games on poor urban youth, illustrating poignantly how "legacy" promises for housing and employment are underachieved.  Kennelly uses first-hand, ethnographic research to uncover the actual experiences of poor, urban youth around the Vancouver Winter Games of 2010 and the London Summer Games of 2012. Kennelly puts these personal stories into a rich framework set by the growing literature on the impact of hosting the Olympics. Olympic Exclusions is important reading for anyone seeking to understand how the Olympics can set back, rather than advance, the social goals of a city.' - Professor Andrew Zimbalist, Department of Economics, Smith College, USA

    "Using a high-quality ethnographic research design, in which multiple methods are used (e.g., walking interviews, focus groups, photo-voicing, document analyses), Kennelly spoke to almost 200 marginalised urban young people about their daily experiences during a five-year period before, during and after the Olympic Games in Vancouver (2010) and London (2012). In addition to the interviews, Kennelly also critically analysed policy documents, bidding reports, media accounts and academic studies. These methods lift the book to a high scholarly level. The fact that Kennelly covered the periods before, during and after the Games can be seen as “groundbreaking” and generates critical insights." - Reinhard Haudenhuyse, Sport & Society Research Unit, Vrije Universiteit Brussel