Culture Agonistes: Social Differentiation, Cultural Policy and Cultural Olympiads

David Inglis

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18 Citations (Scopus)
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Cultural policy-makers and analysts have recently focussed upon the particularly fruitful connections between ‘culture’ and sports. Yet for a long time the Olympic Games have involved an attempted articulation of the cultural–artistic and sportive aspects of human existence. This paper analyses the various attempts to conjoin the separate realms of ‘culture’ and sports that have characterised the Modern Olympics, as Olympic officials and local organising committees have endeavoured to rekindle the original culture–sports nexus of the ancient Greek games. A historical–sociological account of such matters, focussed on the key theme of structural differentiation, is laid out and used to account both for the nature of the ‘Cultural Olympiad’ held at the Sydney 2000 Games and for the cultural events currently being organised for the London 2012 Games. Some suggestions are offered as to how future planning might deal with the problems attendant upon attempts to conjoin two apparently wholly separate and antagonistic realms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-477
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Cultural Policy
Issue number4
Early online date15 Nov 2008
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • olympics
  • cultural olympiad
  • culture
  • cultural events
  • sports
  • cultural planning


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