(Re-)presenting the Paralympics: Affective Nationalism and the “Able-Disabled”

Authors: Pullen, E., Jackson, D. and Silk, M.

http://eprints.bournemouth.ac.uk/31925/

Journal: Communication and Sport

Publisher: SAGE Publications

ISSN: 2167-4795

The relationship between media, sport, nations and nationalism is well established, yet, there is an absence of these discussions at the intersection of communication, Paralympics and disability studies. This omission is particularly significant considering the rapid commodification of the Paralympic spectacle, exacerbated by the entry of Channel 4 (C4) as the UK Paralympic rights holders, that has seen the games become an important site of disability (re-)presentation. In this article, we focus on the construction of national, normative, disabled bodies in Paralympic representation drawn from an analysis of three integrated datasets from Channel 4’s broadcasting of the Rio 2016 Paralympics: interviews with C4 production and editorial staff; quantitative content analysis, and qualitative moving image analysis. We highlight the strategic approach taken by C4 to focus on successful medal winning athletes; the implications this has on the sports and disability classifications given media coverage; and the role of affective high-value production practices. We also reveal the commercial tensions and editorial decisions that broadcasters face with respect to which disabilities / bodies are made hyper-visible - and thereby those which are marginalized - as national disability sport icons that inculcate preferred notions of disability and the (re)imagined nation.

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Authors: Pullen, E., Jackson, D. and Silk, M.

http://eprints.bournemouth.ac.uk/31925/

Journal: Communication and Sport

eISSN: 2167-4809

ISSN: 2167-4795

DOI: 10.1177/2167479519837549

© The Author(s) 2019. The relationship between media, sport, nations, and nationalism is well established; yet, there is an absence of these discussions at the intersection of communication, Paralympics, and disability studies. This omission is particularly significant considering the rapid commodification of the Paralympic spectacle, exacerbated by the entry of Channel 4 (C4) as the UK Paralympic rights holders, that has seen the games become an important site of disability (re-)presentation. In this article, we focus on the construction of national, normative, disabled bodies in Paralympic representation drawn from an analysis of three integrated data sets from C4’s broadcasting of the Rio 2016 Paralympics: interviews with C4 production and editorial staff, quantitative content analysis, and qualitative moving image analysis. We highlight the strategic approach taken by C4 to focus on successful medal-winning athletes, the implications this has on the sports and disability classifications given media coverage, and the role of affective high-value production practices. We also reveal the commercial tensions and editorial decisions that broadcasters face with respect to which disabilities/bodies are made hypervisible—and thereby those which are marginalized—as national disability sport icons that inculcate preferred notions of disability and the (re-)imagined nation.

The data on this page was last updated at 04:52 on April 23, 2019.