This book examines and establishes the sociological relevance of the concept of populism and illuminates the ideological use of sport, leisure, and popular culture in socio-political populist strategies and dynamics. The first part of the book — Themes, Concepts, Theories — sets the scene by reviewing and evaluating populist themes, concepts, and theories and exploring their cultural-historical roots in and application to cultural forms such as mega-sports events, reality television programmes, and the popular music festival. The second part — National Contexts and Settings — examines populist elements of events and regimes in selected cases in South America and Europe: Argentina, Brazil, Greece, Italy, and England. In the third part — Trump Times — the place of sport in the populist ideology and practices of US president Donald Trump is critically examined in analyses of Trump’s authoritarian populism, his Twitter discourse, Lady Gaga at the Super Bowl, and populist strategy on the international stage. The book concludes with a discussion of the strong case for a fuller sociological engagement with the populist dimensions of sport, leisure, and popular cultural forms. Written in a clear and accessible style, this volume will be of interest to sociologists and social scientists beyond those specialising in popular culture and cultural politics of sport and leisure, as the topic of populism and its connection to popular cultural forms and practices has come increasingly into prominence in the contemporary world.
PART 1: Themes, Concepts, Theories
1. Populism, Sport, Leisure, and Popular Culture: Setting the Scene
Alan Tomlinson, Bryan C. Clift, and Jules Boykoff
2. Whither "The People?": Populism, Ideology and the Contested Politics of Sport
3. Populist Elements of SINGO Discourse and Practice: Unravelling the Undercurrents of the Popular Cultural Event
4. Neuro-liberalism: Enterprise, Gender, and the Marketing of the Self
5. The Radical Populist Pitch of U2’s (2009-2011) ‘360°’ Tour
PART 2: National Contexts and Settings
6. Blame Games: Sport, Populism and Crisis Politics in Greece
Jacob J. Bustad
7. From Fascism to Five Stars: Sport, Populism and the Figure of the Leader in Italy
8. Sport, Music, and Populism in Brazil
Renata Maria Toledo
9. Dilma Rousseff, Brazilian Cultural Politics, and the Rio 2016 Olympics: Left in Lula’s Wake
Bryan C. Clift
10. Populism and Sports in Latin America: Old and New Ways of Narrating the Nation
11. Populism and Political Motives for Hosting the FIFA World Cup: Comparing England 1966 and Russia 2018
Kevin D. Tennent and Alex Gillett
PART 3: Trump Times
12. Blue Collar Billionaire: Trumpism, Populism and Uber-Sport
David L. Andrews and Ben Carrington
13. A Tale of Two Twitterstorms: The NFL, Donald Trump, and Digital Populism
14. The Gaga and the Global: American Double Articulation at Super Bowl LI
15. Art of the Deal: Donald Trump, the 2026 FIFA Men’s World Cup, and the Geopolitics of Football Aspiration
Adam Beissel And David L. Andrews
16. Afterword: A Sociological Future for Populism?
Bryan C. Clift and Alan Tomlinson
"Populism in Sport, Leisure, and Popular Culture’s thorough accounting of past theorizations of populism and sport coupled with its insightful analyses of the ways contemporary populists all across the globe are using sport to engender mass support and sow dehumanizing divisions makes this book vital reading for all those interested in making sense of the dangerous politics facing us today."
Kyle W. Kusz, Department of English, University of Rhode Island, USA
"Sport mega-events are ideal vehicles for politicians’ populist agendas. This volume provides insightful analyses of sport/populism links, male politicians’ personality cults and ‘man of the people’ rhetoric. Trump, Johnson, Lula, and Berlusconi are pertinent examples. If there were any doubts that sport is political, this book should put that myth to rest."
Helen Jefferson Lenskyj, Professor Emerita, University of Toronto, Canada
"Historically uneasy about popular culture, sociology can ill afford to discount its populist uses and abuses. This critically incisive, international collection, influenced by Stuart Hall’s path-breaking analysis, ranges freely across the terrain of popular pleasure. In drawing the sociological eye to Trumpian politics, the book makes a particularly persuasive case for a deeper sociological engagement with populist rhetoric and power."
David Rowe, Emeritus Professor of Cultural Research, Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University, Australia
"Offering timely and pertinent engagement with populism and sport, this collection confronts populism’s perils, exposing the power of individuals as both bearers and breakers of democratic decision-making protocols. Questions of human rights and social justice and the potential for populist movements to enact change against inequalities, make this essential reading for anyone seeking sense-making strategies amidst turbulent political landscapes."
Beccy Watson, Reader, Carnegie School of Sport, Leeds Beckett University, UK