'Expanding Horizons': investigating the Glasgow 2014 legacy for young people in the East End of Glasgow

Kidd, Maureen A. (2016) 'Expanding Horizons': investigating the Glasgow 2014 legacy for young people in the East End of Glasgow. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3153481


The recent staging of Glasgow 2014 drew universal praise as the ‘Best Games Ever’. Yet the substantial undertaking of hosting the Commonwealth Games (CWG) was sold to the nation as more than just eleven days of sporting spectacle and cultural entertainment. Indeed, the primary strategic justification offered by policymakers and city leaders was the delivery of a bundle of positive and enduring benefits, so-called ‘legacy’. This ubiquitous and amorphous concept has evolved over time to become the central focus of contemporary hosting bids, reflecting a general public policy shift towards using major sporting mega events as a catalyst to generate benefits across economic, environmental and social dimensions, on a scale intended to be truly transformative. At the same time, the academy has drawn attention to the absence of evidence in support of the prevailing legacy rhetoric and raised a number of sociological concerns, not least the socially unequitable distribution of purported benefits.

This study investigated how young people living in the core hosting zone related to, and were impacted upon, by the CWG and its associated developments and activities with reference to their socio-spatial horizons, the primary outcome of interest. An ‘ideal world’ Logic Model hypothesised that four mechanisms, identified from official legacy documents and social theories, would alter young people’s subjective readings of the world by virtue of broadening their social networks, extending their spatial boundaries and altering their mind sets. A qualitative methodology facilitated the gathering of situated and contextualised accounts of young people’s attitudes, perceptions, beliefs and behaviours relating to Glasgow 2014. In-depth interviews and focus groups were conducted before and after the Games with 26 young people, aged 14-16 years, at two schools in the East End. This approach was instrumental in privileging the interests of people ‘on the ground’ over those of city-wide and national stakeholders.

The findings showed that young people perceived the dominant legacy benefit to be an improved reputation and image for Glasgow and the East End. Primary beneficiaries were identified by them as those with vested business interests e.g. retailers, restaurateurs, and hoteliers, as well as national and local government, with low expectations of personal dividends or ‘trickle down’ benefits. Support for Glasgow 2014 did not necessarily translate into individual engagement with the various cultural and sporting activities leading up to the CWG, including the event itself. The study found that young people who engaged most were those who had the ability to ‘read’ the opportunities available to them and who had the social, cultural and economic capital necessary to grasp them, with the corollary that those who might have gained most were the least likely to have engaged with the CWG. Doubts articulated by research participants about the social sustainability of Glasgow 2014 underscored inherent tensions between the short-lived thrill of the spectacle and the anticipated longevity of its impacts. The headline message is that hosting sporting mega events might not be an effective means of delivering social change. Aspirant host cities should consider more socially equitable alternatives to sporting mega events prior to bidding; and future host cities should endeavour to engage more purposefully with more young people over longer time frames.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Sporting mega events, Commonwealth Games, legacy, young people.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Urban Studies
Funder's Name: ESRC
Supervisor's Name: Kearns, Professor Ade and Mackenzie, Professor Mhairi
Date of Award: 2016
Depositing User: Dr Maureen Kidd
Unique ID: glathesis:2016-7295
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 13 May 2016 14:03
Last Modified: 01 Jun 2016 15:01
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/7295

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