The Olympic Games and Multileveled Citizenship Education in a Global Age: Beijing 2008

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As a premier international sporting event, the Olympic Games both spread a unique version of internationalism and arouse people's national and local sentiments. Research on the Olympic Games has focused on its history and evolution of the modern Games, and their influence on sports education, modernization, and urban developments or redevelopments in host cities. These developments can affect people's perceptions of citizenship and community in a global age. However, little Olympics research has explored the sociopolitical role and functions of the Olympic Games in citizenship education and their impact on students' multiple identities in a multileveled polity in a global age. This is also under-researched in the literature of citizenship and citizenship education.

To fill this gap, with reference to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in China, this study explores the relative importance of the Games--as a large scale, international event--to students, and how hosting the Games affects their views of having multiple identities. Data are drawn from observation, school documents, questionnaires completed by students, and interviews with students and teachers in three schools in Beijing in March-April 2008.

The study shows that hosting the Olympic Games can be used by the host nation and city as a project of multileveled citizenship education, and that it can serve as a sociopolitical instrument, shaping people's multiple identities in a multileveled polity. On the one hand, education about the Olympic Games promotes a version of global citizenship and seeks to foster among people a sense of affiliation and belonging to a common world community, which is marked by Olympic values and aspirations. On the other hand, hosting the Olympic Games provides an opportunity to reinforce citizens' national and local identities, particularly in the host nation and city. The major thrust of reinforcement comes mainly from within rather than from without.


Keywords: Olympic Games, Citizenship, Citizenship Education, Identity Formation, China
Stream: Equity, Social Justice and Social Change; Community, Culture, Globalisation
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Wing-Wah Law

Associate Professor, Education, The University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong, China

Wing-Wah Law is associate professor in the Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong. He has published articles in international journals including Cambridge Journal of Education, Comparative Education Review, International Journal of Educational Development, International Review of Education, and Teachers College Record. His research interests include education and development; citizenship education; higher education; and education reform in Chinese societies.

Ref: L09P0205