Course Title: Playing for Fun or for Keeps? Football Club Barcelona in The Global Village.
Language of Instruction: English
Prerequisites: There are no pre-requisites for the course although it is mainly addressed to students interested in the social and cultural realities surrounding sports.
Keywords: Sport, Football, Culture, Barcelona, Branding
European football (soccer) has become a major cultural vehicle in the global world, both in terms of economical impact and social influence. This course focuses on how this sport shapes the social, economical and cultural realms, and tries to interpret the different links between the game itself and the dimensions surrounding it: media coverage, aesthetic value, political targeting, public and corporate policies... In that context, FC Barcelona remains a unique case, studied in business schools as an example of global market branding, while passionately lived by millions of fans all over the world. Moreover, Barcelona city offers a privileged standpoint to better understand football as a growing issue within contemporary culture.
A number of broad topics related to football will be explored in the course (in an introductory fashion), including FC Barcelona?s case study as an example of both national implications and artistic possibilities, since it embodies the representation of certain Catalonian values while arguably being the most accomplished team of the 21st Century. With that in mind, FC Barcelona can be examined both as an emotional investment for local fans, and as a highly successful brand to be consumed by global audiences. On top of that, largely unquestioned assumptions about fans engagement, national identity and team identification must be revised at the turn of the new century. We will critically reflect on the role new actors play in the sporting arena: social media, global fandom, and the celebrity culture (with multi-million dollar footballers becoming rock stars) that overshadows the team values. In a nutshell, the course will try to make a point about the significance of sport in the modern era, and will do so by highlighting the implications a brand like FC Barcelona can have in social, economical and media contexts.
- Understand the social, cultural and economical issues that constitute football as a key Hispanic and European phenomenon.
- Develop a critical view of the game?s media coverage and the different communication strategies involved.
- Enjoy the aesthetics of the game in a deeper level, learning to interpret the styles and structures of football throughout its evolution.
- Explore the links between Barcelona as a contemporary global city and F.C. Barcelona as a unique team ?and club- in the game?s history.
The course will develop the following topics:
- Introduction to European/Hispanic football as a cultural phenomenon
- The historical, national and political roots of FC Barcelona.
- Football teams as global brands: private markets and public policies.
- Media and communication strategies in a transmedia context.
- FC Barcelona and Real Madrid: the clash of identities.
- Sport celebrities and the individualization of team sports
- Social media: fan participation and football players as opinion leaders.
- Mapping the game. Symbolic landscapes in FC Barcelona?s city.
- Football and the arts: the game?s influence in literature, film and music.
- Game aesthetics: roots and structures of FC Barcelona?s gameplay.
- Ball, Phil. Morbo. The Story of Spanish Football. London, WSC Books, 2011.
- Balagué, Guillem. Pep Guardiola. Another Way of Wining. London, Orion Publishing, 2013.
- Barthes, Roland. Mythologies. London, Vintage Classics, 2000.
- Boyle, Raymond and Haynes, Richard. Power Play. Sport, the Media and Popular Culture. Edinburgh University Press, 2009.
- Burns, Jimmy. La Roja: A Journey Through Spanish Football. London, Simon & Schuster, 2012.
- Crolley, Liz; Hand, David. Football and European Identity: Historical Narratives Through the Press. New York, Routledge, 2006.
- Fitzpatrick, Richard. El Clasico. Barcelona vs. Real Madrid: Football?s Greatest Rivalry. London, Bloomsbury, 2012.
- Foer, Franklin. How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization. New York, Harper Collins, 2005.
- Goldblatt, David. The Ball is Round: A Global History of Soccer. New York, Penguin, 2006.
- Huizinga, Johan. Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture. London, Routledge, 2008.
- Hunter, Graham. Barça: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World. London, BackPage Press Limited, 2012.
- Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York, New York University Press, 2008.
- Kuper, Simon. Football Against the Enemy. London, Orion Books, 2003.
- López-González, Hibai; Guerrero-Sole, Frederic; Haynes, Richard. "Manufacturing conflict narratives in Real Madrid versus Barcelona football matches", International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 2012.
- Wahl, Grant. The Beckham Experiment: How the World?s Most Famous Athlete Tried to Conquer America. New York, Random House, 2009.
- Wangerin, David. Soccer in a Football World: The Story of America?s Forgotten Game. Philadelphia, Temple University Press, 2006. Wilson, Jonathan. Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics. London, Orion Books, 2008.
Method of Assessment:
The course?s assessment will be based on four main fields: a midterm exam (20%), a term paper (30%), a final exam (30%) and class participation (20%).
The course will be based on theoretical classes the content of which will be further developed in a series of task assignments (such as analyzing games, reporting on the media or writing critical essays). Other activities would involve on-site classes in FC Barcelona Museum in Camp Nou stadium, as well as field study trips to social clubs and "penyes." Three scholars are involved in the course, considering a threefold approach from the media industry perspective, the communicative perspective, and the aesthetic perspective.
*Course content subject to change. Please contact your ISA Site Specialist for more information.