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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The 2010 Winter Olympic Games: (re)framing protest van Luijk, Nicolien


Previous research has shown that the organization of Olympic Games has had a negative impact on the civil liberties of host communities, including the right to peaceful protest (Lenskyj, 2002). The purpose of this research was to examine how individuals participating in anti-Olympic events (re)framed the right to protest in public space during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. Three research questions guided the study, (i) what are protestor perspectives on how Olympic organizers are framing this issue (ii) how are protestors re-framing the issue, and (iii) what is their assessment of the challenges encountered? The basis of my theoretical framework is the notion that space is socially constructed and that different actors continuously contest the use of public space (Lefebvre, 1991). In the context of the Olympic Games the use of public space is protected by the dominant actors (e.g., Olympic organizers) and challenged by subordinate actors in the organizational field, in this case those protesting against the Games. This study also drew on the theoretical concepts of institutional logics and framing processes from the Organizational Studies and the Social Movement Theory literature respectively (McAdam & Scott, 2005). These concepts are used to describe the cognitive processes that shaped the behaviours of Olympic organizers and protest participants in relation to the right to protest in public space. The study involved observations of fifteen anti-Olympic events, one-on-one interviews with six protest participants, and an analysis of related documents. The research found that Olympic organizers operated under three major logics of Olympism, security, and sport and nationalism, which framed protestors in ways that delegitimized their perspectives and limited their access to public space. Protest participants re-framed organizer logics by utilizing civil liberties and corporatization as counter-logics to legitimize their right to be present in public spaces during the Games. While the re-framing engaged in by protestors provided some success, the findings suggest that the dominant logics of the Games maintained long-term power and control over spatial practices. The aim of this study was to fill a gap in the existing critical Olympic literature by examining perspectives of protest participants‟ first-hand.

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