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Title:Sport, crisis, and Canadian identity in 1988: A cultural analysis
Author(s):Jackson, Steven James
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Greendorfer, Susan L.
Department / Program:Kinesiology and Community Health
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Anthropology, Cultural
Sociology, General
Mass Communications
Abstract:1988 was a particularly noteworthy period in Canadian history. In fact, the particular intersection of a series of political, economic and cultural events led some people to suggest that 1988 constituted "a year of crisis in Canadian identity". Among those events were the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement and its ultimate parliamentary contestation: the Canadian Federal Election. However, on a popular cultural level the crisis of national identity appeared to be defined in terms of three sporting events namely: The 1988 Calgary Winter Olympic Games, the marriage and trade of hockey star Wayne Gretzky, and the rise and fall of sprinter Ben Johnson at the Seoul Games.
This study provided a critical cultural analysis of the social construction of Canadian identity. More specifically, by conceptualizing 1988 as a "conjunctural moment" this study examined the evidence and significance of a crisis as it emerged within the ongoing media discourse surrounding the aforementioned political, economic and sport events.
Analysis and interpretation for the study were outlined within three major sections. "The 49th Paradox: The 1988 Calgary Winter Olympic Games" revealed that Canada's identity is a contested terrain of meanings articulated within "stereotypical images", "out of difference" to the United States, and, within the Canadian state's current hegemonic negotiation. The conspicuous overrepresentation of minorities indicated how the state incorporates the margins in order to signify its supposed democratic and egalitarian basis.
The second section entitled: "99 Tears: The Wayne Gretzky Trade and the 1988 Crisis of Canadian Identity" revealed how the media articulated the fate of a prominent cultural figure to the fate of Canada as a nation. Furthermore, this section suggested that definite links were made between the discourse surrounding Gretzky's marriage, his trade to the Los Angeles Kings and the debates surrounding the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement.
Finally, Ben Johnson's "Life in the Faust Lane" confirmed that: (a) both his personal triumph and subsequent "disgrace" were articulated to the fate of Canada as a nation; (b) Johnson's national identity was "twisted" to the extent that his Canadian identity had to be achieved whereas his Jamaican or black identity was ascribed; and, (c) the discourse surrounding the Johnson episode was articulated to the debates emerging within the 1988 Canadian Federal Election.
The study concluded that there was indeed a "crisis of Canadian identity" in 1988 as signified by the media. However, no corresponding crisis of identity is guaranteed within the lived experiences of Canadians. Moreover, it was argued that the significance of the crisis should be interpreted within its capacity for serving dominant interests, constructing a Canadian identity rather than expressing its identities.
Issue Date:1992
Rights Information:Copyright 1992 Jackson, Steven James
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9305565
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9305565

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