Sport in Capitalist Society
'A superb new history' New Statesman, 22 August 2013
'Collins adroitly plots the intertwining of the rise of capitalist society and of modern sport, arguing that the latter is a product of the former. He demonstrates how the present has been influenced by the past and indeed often repeats it in some form or another. The book is likely to be held in as much regard as Allen Guttmann’s earlier overarching exposition in From Ritual to Record, still widely cited after nearly three decades.' International Journal of the History of Sport, October 2013.
Why did sport emerge first in Britain? What forces propelled it around the world? Why has it become a vehicle for nationalism? What made sport such a bastion of masculinity? How did the spirit of amateurism rise and eventually fall? Why have major sporting events in the twenty-first century become synonymous with authoritarian control and corporate excess?
Sport in Capitalist Society seeks answers to these and other questions by examining the history of sport over the last three hundred years. It argues that modern sport is as much a product of capitalism as the factory, the stock exchange or the unemployment line.
It aims to investigate these broad historical trends which have shaped modern sport from the eighteenth century to the present day. Its focus is on Britain, Europe, North America and Japan, the regions in which sport acquired huge cultural and commercial significance in the early years of the twentieth century and which, as the major capitalist powers, have dominated the rest of the globe ever since.
The book rejects ideas that sport’s development can be explained by the nebulous and ahistoric concept of ‘modernisation’ or by reference to an equally vague ‘civilising process’, best described as the ‘Whig theory of sociology’. Instead, it takes a historical materialist approach which sees modern sport as a product of capitalism, shaped and moulded by class society and its consequent oppression of women and non-white peoples. It will be essential reading for anyone who wants to understand why and how sport has become such a powerful force in the 21st Century's 'New World Order'.