Celebrating imperfection: sport, disability and celebrity culture

Howe, P David and Parker, Andrew (2012) Celebrating imperfection: sport, disability and celebrity culture. Celebrity Studies, 3 (3). pp. 270-282. ISSN 1939-2397

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Abstract

In recent years, discourses of celebrity surrounding sports stars have provided fruitful ground for critiquing the role of sport in late-capitalist culture. Seldom, however, has this critical gaze been directed at the Paralympic movement. Drawing on a critical anthropology of Paralympic sport, this paper argues that celebrity status is situated at the heart of an individualised and ideologically grounded late-capitalist culture in which visual media is central to the production of social identities. It is against this backdrop that the paper seeks to unpack what lies behind the achievements of the United Kingdom's most celebrated Paralympian, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson. We argue that Grey-Thompson's celebrity appeal as a role model, political figure, voice of Paralympism (in the UK) and, to some degree, marketable commodity, are devoid of an understanding of the habitus of the Paralympic community, the nature of Paralympic competition, and specifically the complex and detailed classification systems within which all disabled athletes perform. It is argued that a greater awareness of these matters at a public level may well challenge the tenability of Grey-Thompson's celebrity position.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: REF2014 Submission. Celebrity, sport, disability, Paralympic Games, habitus
Subjects: Q Science > QM Human anatomy
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Sport & Exercise > Coaching, Physical Education and Development
Research Priority Areas: Sport, Exercise, Health & Wellbeing
Depositing User: Anne Pengelly
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2015 10:54
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2016 13:59
URI: http://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/1307

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