SOAS University of London

Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy

Three Australian Cultural Fields: Art, Media and Sport

Emeritus Professor David Rowe, Western Sydney University; Professor Deborah Stevenson, Western Sydney University

Date: 2 October 2019Time: 2:00 PM

Finishes: 2 October 2019Time: 3:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: 559

Type of Event: Workshop

Three Australian Cultural Fields: Art, Media and Sport

Talk 1: Australian Dreams, Final Quarters: Indigeneity and Media Scandal

By David Rowe, Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University

In 2019, two documentary films, The Final Quarter and The Australian Dream, were released about the retired Indigenous Australian rules footballer Adam Goodes.  One of the finest players of his generation, Goodes’ career ended in ugly fashion after he was subjected to persistent booing by some members of the crowd and attacked by prominent right-wing commentators.  While the reasons for this treatment of a celebrated sportsman are disputed, they can be traced to his protest at being the target of racial abuse at the stadium and his anti-racist stance while being the 2014 Australian of the Year.  This presentation analyses the social-structural context underlying this controversy.  Contemporary media sport is positioned at the intersection, in Bourdieusian terms, of two fields.  It is here that sport is presented, represented and infused with a range of contested socio-cultural meanings.  Australia’s Indigenous peoples’ relationship to sport and media, as in the wider society, is multi-faceted and historically conditioned by the malign legacy of invasion and expropriation.  Sport is represented in the media and political fields as a space of reconciliation in a settler-colonial nation, and one in which Indigenous success can be claimed as a sign of progress in ‘race’ relations.  But this celebration of Indigeneity in sport is heavily restricted by the demand that it be depoliticised.  When Indigenous sportspeople go beyond the boundaries of sporting assimilation, they encounter a vigorous right-wing authoritarian populist backlash that treats the assertion of Indigenous difference and rights as divisive and even scandalous.  This presentation, which draws on case studies and research data from the Australian Research Council-funded project Australian Cultural Fields: National and Transnational Dynamics, will examine the role of the converged media and sport fields in debates about Indigeneity and racism in Australia. 

David Rowe, FAHA, FASSA, is Emeritus Professor of Cultural Research, Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University; Honorary Professor, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Bath; and Research Associate, Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy, SOAS University of London.  His books include: Popular Cultures: Rock Music, Sport and the Politics of Pleasure (1995); Globalization and Sport: Playing the World (co-authored, 2001); Sport, Culture and the Media: The Unruly Trinity (second edition, 2004); Sport Beyond Television: The Internet, Digital Media and the Rise of Networked Media Sport (co-authored, 2012); Sport, Public Broadcasting, and Cultural Citizenship: Signal Lost? (co-edited, 2014), and Making Culture: Commercialisation, Transnationalism, and the State of ‘Nationing’ in Contemporary Australia (co-edited, 2018).  David is a frequent expert commentator in both Australian and international media on socio-cultural matters.  His work has been translated into several languages, including Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Korean, Spanish and Turkish.  In 2018 he received the Australian Sociological Association Distinguished Service to Sociology Award, and in the same year his book Global Media Sport: Flows, Forms and Futures (2011) was an Outstanding Book Selection of the National Academy of Sciences, Republic of Korea. 

Talk 2: Gendered Cultural Capital: The Aesthetic Labour of Women

By Deborah Stevenson, Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University

This presentation takes as its point of departure Bourdieu’s analytical perspective that cultural capital (as a set of enduring dispositions) is acquired at the level of the household through the interplay of education and class.  Drawing on data from the Australian Cultural Fields project, it considers what people whose interest in the art field has been classified as ‘major’ say about the educational and family factors that have shaped this interest.  An observation is that the notion of education should be extended to include the informal learning that takes place within the domestic sphere, primarily through the emotional (and aesthetic) labour of women.  Moreover, where the concept of emotional capital has been linked to the work that women, in particular, do at the interface of home and school, it should be understood also as important in the informal education that occurs within the family.  Continuing its focus on the household, the presentation also considers what the project interviews reveal about the ways in which cohabiting heterosexual couples negotiate cultural taste and consumption.  It is indicated that, for many respondents, accommodation rather than negotiation is at play, with women appearing to be far more likely than men to be absorbed into the cultural consumption of their partner.  For some the accommodation of the cultural taste of another may be at the cost of ‘consuming’ their preferred cultural forms.  For others, cultural consumption occurs separately although, not unusually, in the same space – ‘separately together’, so to speak.  In many cases, there is a shift in, or expansion of, cultural taste and capital; but a failure to consume does not necessarily entail the loss of cultural capital.  In other words, cultural capital is not inevitably diminished or extinguished through the absence of practise or display.  The presentation concludes by highlighting the significance of gender at the household level in the acquisition and display of cultural capital. 

Deborah Stevenson is Professor in the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University. Her research interests are in arts and cultural policy, cities and urban life, and the role of gender in shaping creative practice and cultural consumption.  She has published widely on these topics including nine authored/edited books.  She is also co-editor of the forthcoming Routledge Companion to Urban Media and Communication and The Australian Art Field: Practice, Policies, Markets (Routledge), while her monograph Cultural Policy Beyond the Economy: Work, Value and the Social is to be published in 2020 by Edward Elgar. Professor Stevenson sits on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Cultural Policy and the Journal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events and her recent funded projects include a major study of arts practice in Sydney; a national investigation of cultural taste and consumption in Australia; and an examination of UNESCO’s role in shaping local and national cultural policy. 

This event is free and open to attend, with no registration necessary.

Organiser: CISD

Contact email: