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London's shadow legacies: security and activism at the 2012 Olympics

Boykoff, Jules and Fussey, Pete (2014) 'London's shadow legacies: security and activism at the 2012 Olympics.' Contemporary Social Science, 9 (2). pp. 253-270. ISSN 2158-2041

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When London organisers bid on the 2012 Summer Olympics, they promised an array of legacies, from economic and environmental to cultural and sport-related. In bid materials, Lord Sebastian Coe and his colleagues put forth a four-pronged vision for the Games: providing an unforgettable experience for athletes; forging a British sport legacy; regenerating East London economically and socially; and championing the Olympic Movement and the International Olympic Committee. But the 2012 London Olympics tendered a legacy not touted in bid materials: a revamped security state and riled-up activist communities. This article examines the dialectics of restriction and resistance: the ever-present dance between security forces and activists as they jockey for position and advantage in the public sphere. Drawing from government documents, media accounts, ethnographies and interviews with activists and security practitioners, we analyse these dialectics as played out in London in the run-up to, during and after the Olympics. First, we analyse literatures on repressive and coercive state policies and on the dissent and activism they inspire, giving special attention to specific Olympic processes. We then consider the urban setting that not only stages the Games, but also animates specific tensions on which security agencies and activists converge. This discussion is developed in the following section where we consider the measures adopted by state and private security forces for the London Games and examine the activist response to the Olympic juggernaut and how campaigners were replying to - sometimes tacitly and at other times explicitly - the state's actions. The paper concludes by considering how security practices, activism and their interrelationships contribute towards a range of less-visible legacies. © 2013 Academy of Social Sciences.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2014 15:02
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2022 00:55

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