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Presentation version of my Rinkside Tweeting paper: A Foucauldian interpretation of power relations in the NHL.

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  • 1. Rinkside Tweeting: A Foucauldian Understanding ofChanging Power Relations in the National Hockey League Presented by Naila Jinnah Macintosh Conference Queens University January 22, 2011
  • 2. Say what? How does Foucaults understanding of power apply to the off-ice life of NHL players? Foucault and sport usually about discipline or technologies of self in development of high- performance athletes What happens when different power groups start using social media tools like Twitter? Potential motivations & goals
  • 3. About Twitter 140-character public status updates (tweets) May include basic text and links or pics and vids using tools Users can subscribe to others feeds followers Can interact by replying, forwarding (retweeting), etc Public feeds accessible online to non-Twitter users UNLESS user makes feed private to authorised users only
  • 4. About Foucault & Power Early work mechanisms of surveillance, punishment and resistance: repressive power sovereign power disciplinary society Power as positive and productive: resistance forms identities, knowledge & truth Later work technologies of self: Aesthetics of self: Voluntary rules of conduct that one imposes on self Ethics: How the individual sees self as a moral subject Individuals subject to normalizing discourses produced by dominant power groups and disciplinary power
  • 5. More Foucault & Power Power is relational, omnipresent, mutable NOT possession: exerting power is manifestation Those subjected to power must possess some degree of freedom or choice resistance Power structures are open to negotiation Resistance can eventually create shifts at societal levels may cause emergence of new voices and new dominant power groups within existing relations in the long run
  • 6. Research Questions Why do groups exert power on each other? Traditional media Official league & team representatives Athletes Fans Related groups: player agents, NHLPA, citizen media How do they exert this power? What kind of power is exerted?
  • 7. Power relations in the NHL pre-Twitter The NHL Traditional Media Fans League Team Players Legend Agents/ One-way power NHLPA Minimal one-way power Balanced two-way power Imbalanced two-way power
  • 8. Traditional media = intermediary Symbiotic relationship between media & sport Economics: sport sells, media creates fans Dissemination of normalising discourses Mutual power struggle: disciplinary power Players interact with fans through media only Media represents global fan reaction Fans voice limited: via media, by chance, or $ Teams/league talks to fans through media only
  • 9. Players and Power No athletes, no sport! Power exists in three qualities Origin Basic nature Manifestation NHL values continually perpetuated Sovereign, paternalistic power Disciplinary, normalising power Athletes: Docile Bodies and labourers Surveillance tactics: Hierarchical observation Timetables Systems of rank
  • 10. Counter-Power / Resistance Athletes are not shaped to deal non-sport aspects: NHLPA: players union to deal with business/labour Agents: deal with financial & well-being of clients Rise & fall of World Hockey Association (1972-79) also helped athletes resist to NHL power Lifespan of average successful NHL career: 5 years Resisting media, league not a smart choice Success through technologies of self: better self and maximize post career opportunities No true self but reconstruction of identities by challenging traditional normalising discourse
  • 11. Athletes + Power = Illusion Power only present in perpetuation of discourses that identify athletes as heroes Only true power exerted on other athletes: Veterans initiating rookies to NHL life Competition for same positions on team Power struggles through resistance NHL + athletes work together towards new normal
  • 12. NHLs new strategies & tactics NHL monopoly on pro hockey market in NA Talent, teams, media interest, discourse From sovereign power to art of government BEFORE: Manage territory + constituents (athletes) NOW: the population [or athlete] is the subject of needs, of aspirations, but it is also the object in the hands of the government [league], aware, vis-a- vis the government [league], of what it wants, but ignorant of what is being done to it. -Foucault in Governmentality (p. 99) In The Foucault effect: Studies in governmentality, with two lectures by and an interview with Michel Foucault. (1991) Still sovereign & disciplinary power + new strategies & tactics mean NHL has more ways of governing athletes
  • 13. NHL as cartel LEAGUE (STATE) TEAMS (INSTITUTION) Regulates teams so they act in Extension of leagues power the leagues interest Team regulations based on Restricts access for athletes league-wide guidance Divides power across markets micro power: MACRO power: Day-to-day operations Master schedule Local PR/communications League-wide PR/communications Local promotion & events only Discipline to control athlete Game day information actions that dont fit in discourse Takes control of local league-wide Everyday discipline of athletes events with major marketing potential: ASG, Draft, Playoffs
  • 14. Power relations in the NHL post-Twitter The NHL League Traditional Media Fans Team Players Citizen Media Agents/ NHLPA Legend One-way power Minimal one-way power Balanced two-way power Imbalanced two-way power
  • 15. Twitter = new intermediary NHL no longer needs traditional media to disseminate info on its behalf with Internet Slighted power groups now have a voice More direct communication between groups Twitter as tool is NOT automatically liberating Reduces space & increases speed of communications between different groups Resistance doesnt modify power relations but knowledge produced by resistance
  • 16. Knowledge leads to power Power relations: ways in which knowledge circulates and functions + its relation to power Power & knowledge linked in discourse Daily relations between people produce society Power & knowledge cant exist without each other Knowledge produced by normalising, disciplinary methods Athletes contribute to discourse by producing and dispersing their own knowledge Open, non-discriminatory platform: athletes can completely control their own communications Still discipline & surveillance by: agent, team, league, mainstream media reporters, fans
  • 17. PANOPTIC surveillance Panopticon based on Benthams prison design