How to Influence National Pride? The Olympic Medal Index as a Unifying Narrative

I.M. van Hilvoorde, A. Elling, R. Stokvis

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    Elite sport is often regarded as one of the main vehicles for articulating national pride and stimulating national cohesion. In this article, we explore a variety of different notions of pride and nationality as related to success in elite sport. We present the results of a public survey, which measured some of the effects on national pride in the Netherlands, related to the men's European Football Championships, the Tour de France, Wimbledon and the Olympic Games in Beijing (all in the summer of 2008). The results suggest that a sense of belonging is a necessary condition that precedes rather than results from sport-related pride. This supports the notion of national pride being a rather stable characteristic of countries, notwithstanding specific situations (such as sport success) that may lead to minor and temporary fluctuations. There seems to be no empirical evidence for the - primarily quantitatively understood - concept of pride (as a 'bucket-notion'), which is often implicit to the political rhetoric used to increase sport funding with the aim of winning more medals to generate an increase in national pride. © The Author(s) 2010.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)87-102
    JournalInternational Review for the Sociology of Sport
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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