David McGillivray

Professor, interested in events, culture, digital participation & sport.


Post-Games lethargy and questions of legacy

It’s nearly the end of September 2014 and its been two months since the final curtain came down on the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. As regular readers of this blog will attest, I’ve  been banging on about the Commonwealth Games for a couple of years now, primarily through two research projects I’m heavily involved in – Digital Commonwealth and Leveraging Parasport Events for Sustainable Community Participation. Over the course of the Games themselves – 11 days of observation, surveys, media making and some sport spectating – I was an embedded researcher and ‘creative citizen’ at one and the same time. It’s always exciting being involved, in some small way, in the spectacle of a major event but my research interests are predominantly concerned with what happens before and after – the strategies, tactics and programmes put in place to ensure (not hope) for meaningful social change. That’s why I’m now coming out of my post-Games lethargy to become immersed in questions of legacy (and these are ‘big’ questions).

My first public engagement after the Games was to attend the European Association of Sport Management conference in Coventry where I talked about the research/practice dimensions of the Digital Commonwealth project and the use of events as a vehicle to embed digital media literacy in a wider range of community settings.

Taking a step back (chronologically speaking) just before the Games I was also heavily involved in hosting the annual Leisure Studies Association conference at University of the West of Scotland. In addition to being on the Organising Committee I also had the privilege of delivering one of the keynote sessions as part of my Inaugural Professorial Lecture. Drawing on my interests in digital leisure culture and mega events, I set out a research agenda for the leisure studies community as we try to come to terms with the transformations and tribulations wrought by the digital turn.

As part of my research collaboration with colleagues Laura Misener and Kyle Rich at Western University in Ontario, Canada and Gayle McPherson of UWS, I have also started the arduous task of analysing a significant volume of data gathered as part of our leveraging parasport events project. This involves coding lots of qualitative data, analysing survey responses and disseminating our early findings to the wider academic community.  Just some of the images we’ve accumulated can be viewed here. To that end, our work was presented at the recent Sport and Disability conference in Coventry. Look out for more news on this over the next few months.

The final games-related research I’ve been involved in is a project titled ‘Zoning the City’ which focuses on the way that urban space is brought within the realm of commerce during (and continuing beyond) major events. This joint study with my colleague Matt Frew includes a visual ethnography element and builds on previous research on he London 2012 Olympics which has just been published in the Urban Studies journal. In the spirit of making my academic outputs more widely available and opening them up to a broader audience, I’m in the process of producing a vodcast to accompany the paper – look out for that on Youtube in the near future.

I’ve always found blogging therapeutic and know that I’m getting bogged down when I stop writing these short updates. In the process of writing I’m already less lethargic – or maybe that’s just energy we’re all encountering in Scotland as we consider the ‘#indyref as event’…


David McGillivray • September 17, 2014

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