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More Than A Game: Sport, Legitimacy and Unrecognised States

CollectionsANU Student Research Conference (2nd : 2016 : Canberra, ACT)
Title: More Than A Game: Sport, Legitimacy and Unrecognised States
Author(s): Pender, Kieran
Keywords: student research conference;Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies;Honours 3MT;sport;unrecognised states;Honours
Date published: 14-Jul-2016
Publisher: Australian National University
This research analyses the use of sport by unrecognised states for political legitimacy purposes. These unusual territorial entities, fulfilling the empirical criteria of statehood yet lacking recognition, exist with a deficit of legitimacy. While the legitimation strategies adopted by unrecognised states have been scrutinised in several recent studies, none have fully interrogated the use of symbolic legitimacy building methods. Drawing on a developing academic understanding of the interplay between sport and politics, this research asks: why do unrecognised states participate in 'international' sporting competitions? It adopts a fieldwork-informed qualitative single case study methodology to propose a two-part explanation. Firstly, it suggests that unrecognised states use sport to legitimate themselves internally, with the hope of fostering national identity and improving national unity. Moreover, participation in such events is seen as having external legitimacy benefits: offering an avenue for outward-oriented image-building and international engagement. The importance of sport, it seems, goes far beyond the final score.


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