chapter  15
13 Pages

The new international division of cultural labour and sport

Under the Taliban, which supposedly withdrew from the world of states, Afghanistan affiliated with one of the most venerable and successful institutions of global civil society. Not long before the United States began military action there in 2001, the country became the 74th member of the International Cricket Council (ICC). (The Taliban’s decision to affiliate had been inspired by connections to Pakistan, where cricket is very popular. Those ties had been developed, with CIA encouragement during the previous two decades, following the Soviet invasion – which the US Government had furtively encouraged in order to generate a Vietnam equivalent to undermine the former Soviet republic.) Today, the headquarters of the Afghanistan Cricket Federation remain in Kabul, aided by Pakistan Cricket Board money and ICC encouragement, and there are more than 300 Afghan cricket clubs, with many players having learnt the game in Pakistan’s refugee camps or under the sponsorship of foreign charity. In 2009, the national team qualified for one-day international status (Williams, 2001; ‘Bowled over’, 2005; Luke, 2009). This anecdote references two things. First, it illustrates the relative autonomy

of sport from politics. How else could a regime known to abjure links to colonial, neocolonial, capitalist and secular pastimes – rejecting even basic diplomacy – endorse a powerful (and Western-dominated) institution? Second, it illustrates that this relative autonomy is underpinned by politics; for Afghanistan’s cricketing link derived from Cold-War surrogacy and post-colonial hangovers and was then stimulated by an invasion that toppled the regime. The anecdote’s lesson is clear: that the globalization of sport through migrating players is equally about the appeal of sport and its imbrication with world capitalism. In the English language, the principal academic writings on globalization and

sport veer between figurational perspectives, deriving from the sociological theories and empirical studies of Norbert Elias (e.g. Maguire, 1999, 2005, 2008), and a blend of neo-Marxism, focusing on the division of labour and media ownership, and Foucauldianism, concentrating on subjectivity and governmentality. The latter animated our work in Globalization and Sport (Miller et al., 2001; also see Miller,

2007, 2009). In this chapter, we begin with a summary of the political-economic argument from Globalization and Sport, namely that certain simultaneous, uneven, inter-connected processes characterize the present moment: globalization, governmentalization, Americanization, televisualization and commodification. They occur in the context of a New International Division of Cultural Labour (NICL). Hence the paradox stimulating and characterizing our project: that these processes operate in both complementary and contradictory ways. It is not appropriate to view globalization as a totalizing and homogenizing force: we provided ample evidence throughout Globalization and Sport that it is not. Yet, many components of globalization are common across sites, leading to the acceptance of certain laws, media norms and economic tendencies. In this chapter, after explicating the NICL, we concentrate on how US profes-

sional sports and the bourgeois media utilize a global labour pool and audience to supplement an oversupplied local market. We conclude that, whilst the classic capitalist problem of overproduction is slowly eroding the sealed-off nature of US culture, the forces of protectionism continue to characterize US sport, precluding equal exchange. The NICL derives from a reconceptualization of economic dependency theory

that followed the inflationary chaos of the 1970s. Developing markets for labour and products, and the shift from the spatial sensitivities of electrics to the spatial insensitivities of electronics, pushed First-World businesses beyond treating ThirdWorld countries as suppliers of raw materials, viewing them instead as shadowsetters of the price of work, competing amongst themselves and with the First and Second Worlds for employment. That process broke up the prior division of the world into a small number of industrialized nations and a majority of underdeveloped ones, as production was split across continents. Fröbel et al. (1980) christened the phenomenon the New International Division of Labour (NIDL). The NIDL is not without its critics. Has flexible specialization superseded mass production, is there super-exploitation of workers in non-core regions and must political authoritarianism necessarily accompany corporate global expansion (Hill and Lee, 1994; Jenkins, 1994)? However, it is clear that post-Second World War capitalist growth has been premised on the exploitation of peasant, and more recently formerly state-socialist, nations in a manner that reconstitutes economic, social and cultural arrangements in favour of transnational capital (Rosset, 2006). The NIDL paradigm continues, therefore, to be deployed to great effect (Hoogvelt, 2001; McMichael, 2009). The idea behind the NICL is that, just as manufacturing fled the First World,

cultural production has also relocated. This is happening at the level of popular and high-culture texts, computer-aided design and manufacture, sales, marketing and information exchange (Freeman, 2000; Baldoz et al., 2001). The NICL has been most dramatically applied to film and television production (Miller et al., 2005). In sport, labour-market expansion and developments in global transportation and communications technology have diminished the need for co-location of management, labour and consumption. More than a decade ago, Bale and Maguire (1994) highlighted the growing Afro-Caribbean involvement in British

football2 and the presence in the United States of track and pool athletes from many nations, stimulated largely by college scholarship programmes. They reported the summer ‘invasion’ of cricketers from the Commonwealth of Nations to play in England’s domestic competition, and commented on the lifestyles of élite golf, tennis, rugby union and rugby league players. Today, football is the major site of international labour mobility. Players move

in accordance with several factor endowments, beyond issues such as talent and money. There is a clear link between imperial history and job destination in the case of Latin Americans going to Spain, Portugal and Italy, or Africans playing in France, while cultural links draw Scandinavians to Britain (Giulianotti, 2002). A small labour aristocracy experiences genuine class mobility in financial terms, underpinned by a huge reserve army of labour and ancillary workers, each subject to various, and often quite severe, forms of exploitation. This tendency is so marked that it has given rise to a Professional Football Players’ Observatory, which tracks the success and value of players, complete with an interactive online instrument to illustrate migration (see The impact of the NICL is not restricted to cosmopolitan workers. It also gen-

erates new ways of transferring knowledge. Lash and Urry (1994) have argued that reflexive accumulation (the production of knowledge) combines with flexible specialization in the workplace to challenge orthodox notions of space and time.3 Globally, mobile citizens are part of information flows. In turn, they influence those flows. In rendering problematic both space and time, globalization confuses identity – one effect of which is to question the meaning and efficacy of nationalism. Multicultural national sporting teams (e.g. England being represented by cricketers of Zimbabwean, South African, Caribbean, New Zealand/Aoetaroan, Indian, Peruvian, Italian, Scottish, Welsh and Australian birth or upbringing) blur the meaning of ‘us’ versus ‘them’, the traditional political and racial core of nationalist sentiment. Since the very beginnings of codified sport in the late nineteenth century, mar-

keting has been central. For example, the growth spurt of football in Britain in the 1890s and 1900s was closely connected to sponsorship from breweries. A century ago, Manchester United went into liquidation until it was bought and renamed by Manchester Breweries (Collins and Vamplew, 2002, pp. 46-7). So, in no sense would we argue for a halcyon period of romance when business and sport were separate spheres of civil society. The NICL opens up new domestic fronts in a dynamic of identification and commodification. The key is that the rise of global electronic media coverage, inter-twined with new forms of market-driven administration, has conditioned the relative autonomy of sport from the media, government and commerce. A turning point came with the emergence of global cricket contests that transcended nationally selected teams, starting in 1970, when South Africa was exiled from the world game because of Apartheid, and the brewing company Guinness sponsored a substitute tour of England by a global team (including white South Africans) (Collins and Vamplew, 2002, p. 60). A few years later there was a television takeover of world cricket from traditional authorities. The first of these phenomena signalled the prospect of transnational organization, commerce

and identification. The second referenced the support given to cricket over many years by public broadcasters across much of the former British Empire, which excited the profit drives of less inventive commercial interests. In other words, once public broadcasters had created a viewing public, brokering the risk on public money, capital moved in to pick up a market that it had not shown the skill to initiate or cultivate (Miller, 1989). Similar stories could be told of basketball in the United States, which was stimulated by coverage on public TV in San Francisco. Since the growth of sponsorship income and commercial control of sports that

we traced in Globalization and Sport, a newly vigorous process of product placement has emerged. Not content with 30-second TV spots or arena signage, Adidas redesigned its football boot for the 2002 World Cup to achieve ‘maximum on-field visibility’ for television viewing. Regardless of the angle or the use of slow motion, the company’s three-stripe logo would be visible every time one of the 150 players in the tournament who were paid to wear the ‘Predator Mania’ shoe was in-shot. Major stars were encouraged to don a champagne-coloured variety, which had been tested for maximum televisual impact (Kahn, 2002). Brewers routinely take advantage of ball-by-ball TV coverage of world cricket by claiming naming rights – such as the former Foster’s Oval in England. Alcohol promotion is also highly visible in British football with, for example, Carling sponsoring its eponymous Cup and advertising on the shirts of Glasgow Celtic and Rangers, while Liverpool and Everton players wear, respectively, the brands of Carlsberg and Chang. Sales increases in the aftermath of these moves have been staggering, and the results have been similar for Anheuser-Busch in the United States (Collins and Vamplew, 2002, pp. 60-1, 63-4). In short, the NICL produces new publics in its restless search for spectators whose viewing and supporting labour will persuade the media to cover sports and sell the presence of these publics to advertisers. We shall address these worker and audience trends serially.