Turning events management on its axis
2 August 2016 - Kelly Scotney
Two new books that explore the ways in which events are constructed within social, cultural and political environments have been published by a Leeds Beckett lecturer.
Dr Ian Lamond, Senior Lecturer in Events, in partnership with Karl Spracklen, Professor of Leisure Studies in the School of Sport at Leeds Beckett University, and Dr Louise Platt, Senior Lecturer in Festivals and Events Management at Manchester Metropolitan University, bring together new theoretical understanding and applied research from around the world, cutting across sociology, leisure studies, politics and cultural studies, to bring new critical teaching and theory of the study and analysis of events.
Critical Event Studies by Professor Spracklen and Dr Lamond (published by Routledge), and Critical Event Studies: Approaches to Research, edited by Dr Lamond and Dr Platt (published by Palgrave), will be of interest to undergraduate and postgraduate students on events management and the wider social sciences, as well as scholars interested in understanding the ways in which events are constructed within their social, cultural and political context.
Speaking about his collaboration with Professor Spraklen, Dr Lamond said: “Our book is the result of the happy coincidences that bring frustrated academics together. Degree programmes within the field tend to focus on operational considerations associated with the project management of delivering a range of events - Critical Event Studies is our attempt to introduce to events management the same kind of interdisciplinary, socio-cultural critical thinking that has transformed leisure studies.”
Deemed the first research book to deal explicitly with the concept of critical event studies (CES) – the idea that it is impossible to explore and understand events without understanding the wider social, cultural and political contexts of those events – Critical Event Studies addresses questions such as can the use of specific spaces by activists be understood as events within its framework? And is the activity of activists in these spaces a leisure activity?
Dr Lamond added: “If those, and other similar activities, can be read as events and leisure, what does admitting them into the scope of events management and leisure studies mean for our understanding of them and how the study of events management is to be conceptualised?”
Working collaboratively with Dr Platt and contributing international scholars, Critical Event Studies: Approaches to Research is the first book to consider the wide variety of research approaches being used by academics world-wide whose interests lie within CES.
Dr Lamond said: “The primary purpose of this book is to firmly ground CES as a significant part of the future for research and teaching, at all levels, within the field of Event Studies and Events Management.
“At present, methodological discussion within event studies is often dominated by the changing demands for refinement of methods suitable for event evaluation. That dominance is a symptom of a neo-liberal economic agenda that seeks to de-politicise and, to some extent, de-culturate many events into ‘Western’-influenced entertainment. Whilst we agree that there is a vital need for robust empirical event evaluation (which, itself, needs to go beyond the current limitations of approaches that are dominated by a common assumption that event assessments are fundamentally economic impact assessments in various forms of disguise), that domination restricts the range of research philosophies and theoretical frameworks available to scholars. By presenting researchers with a richer range of approaches, insightfully discussed by peers who are trying to develop techniques appropriate to this emerging field, this book works as a signpost to a wider array of tools than are presented within the field as it has previously been construed.”
Dr Lamond is currently working on a new project: Britain’s got the X Factor: Reflections on the 2015 UK General Election and the 2016 EU Referendum (yet to be approved and published by Palgrave). He explained: “A general election is a defining event within the democratic life of the UK, this year has also seen a relatively new creature enter our democratic landscape – the national referendum. CES is particularly interested in the discourses exposed as a result of such events.
“Rather than considering how, in a democratic state, those in power communicate and circulate their messages, this book will consider how the media itself articulates democracy, and the vital public debate that is central to its health and vitality, as spectacle. In doing so, this work adds a fresh dimension to political sociology, political communications, and journalism studies – opening up new trajectories for research, and new insights for those interested in engaging in informed debate around the state of democracy in Britain today.”