Print this page Share

Sport and Modernity

ISBN: 978-1-5095-0156-4
240 pages
November 2017, Polity
Sport and Modernity (1509501568) cover image


This important new book from one of the world's leading sociologists of sport weaves together social theory, history and political economy to provide a highly original analysis of the complex relationship between sport and modernity.

Incorporating a powerful set of theoretical insights from traditions and thinkers ranging from classical Marxism and the Frankfurt School to Foucault and Bourdieu, Gruneau analyses the emergence of 'sport' as a distinctive field of practice in Western societies. Examining subjects including the legacy of Greek and Roman antiquity, representations of sport in 19th century England, Nazism, and modern 'mega-events' such as the Olympics and World Cup, he seeks to show how sport developed into an arena which articulated competing understandings of the kinds of people, bodies and practices best suited to the modern Western world.

This book thereby explores with brio and sophistication how the ever-changing economic, social and political relations of modernity have been produced and reproduced, and sometimes also opposed and escaped, through sport, from the Enlightenment to the rise of neoliberalism, as well as examining how the study of exercise, athletics, the body and the spectacle of sport can deepen our understanding of the nature of modernity. It will be essential reading for students and scholars of the sociology and history of sport, sociology of culture, cultural history, and cultural studies.

See More

Table of Contents

  • Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • 1. Athletics, Body Imagery and Spectacle: Greco-Roman Practices, Discourses and Ideologies
  • 2. The Politics of Representation: English Sport as an Object and Project of Modernity
  • 3. ‘Staging’ (Capitalist/Colonial) Modernity: International Exhibitions and Olympics
  • 4. German Modernism, Anti-Modernism and the Critical Theory of Sport
  • 5. A Savage Sorting of ‘Winners’ and ‘Losers:’ Modernization, Development, Sport, and the Challenge of Slums
See More

Author Information

Richard Gruneau is Professor of Communication at Simon Fraser University.

See More


"Ric Gruneau is the best theorist and analyst of sports writing today or yesterday; and probably will be tomorrow, as well. Sport and Modernity is as sophisticated theoretically and as rich empirically as it is pleasing to read. A landmark."
Toby Miller, University of California, Riverside

"With the publication of the brilliant Sport and Modernity, Richard Gruneau has not only produced a new way of looking at sport but, more importantly, has offered us a radical rereading of the origins and project of modernity itself and in so doing confirms his position as Canada’s leading social theorist and cultural historian of sport."
Ben Carrington, University of Southern California

See More

Related Titles

Back to Top