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Reviewed by:
  • Sport, Beer, and Gender: Promotional Culture and Contemporary Social Life
  • Elizabeth C.J. Pike
Wenner, Lawrence and Steven Jackson, eds. Sport, Beer, and Gender: Promotional Culture and Contemporary Social Life. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. 2009. Pp. vi + 317. Index.

Sport, Beer, and Gender provides a timely and important expose of a relationship that the editors describe as being “inexorably bonded in a synergistic system of mutual sustenance” (p. 11). The book contains a series of essays, which each present a microscopic focus on the relationship between sport and beer in specific places, events, and companies. In so doing, the authors illuminate broader social issues in this nexus drawing, in particular, on their expertise in sport’s relationship to the media, sponsorship, advertising, violence, deviancy, nationalism, and globalization. The chapters are well-written, accessible, and insightful, and the authors and editors are well qualified to produce this text. A particular feature of the book is the attempt to present a global overview, drawing on the expertise and research of authors from a range of locations in Africa, North and Latin America, Australasia, and Europe.

The editors acknowledge in the introductory chapter that this is not a “new” topic for a book. However, the chapters each present a contemporary look at a social issue that has a long tradition, exploring more recent nuances and manifestations within an historical context. Readers of the Journal of Sport History will be particularly interested in the exploration of the history of the relationship between sport and beer from the sponsorship by early breweries and distilleries as sports were codified and professionalized, through post- World War II magazine and scorecard advertising, to the most recent uses of modern technologies in text messaging and virtual sports bars. There are sections of the book that appear to dichotomize sport as inherently “good” and beer as inherently “bad,” and these chapters would benefit from a more fully developed discussion of the complexities and problematization of this relationship throughout history and across societies and cultures.

The book is structured into three coherent parts: Institutions and Production; Texts and Representation; Consumption and Reception. The chapters in the final section make interesting reading but it is, perhaps, less easy to identify here than elsewhere in the book how they each “fit” with the overarching theme of gender and/or consumption, with one chapter in particular seeming more suited to the section on representation. Overall, however, the separate chapters are linked to each other within the broad themes of the book and relevant subsection, but they are written in such a way that each can be read as a “stand alone” piece rather than necessarily requiring reading of each chapter sequentially (although the first is worth perusing as a useful introduction and rationale for the rest of the book). This means that each chapter introduces its own topic and focus, and there is (perhaps necessarily) some resultant repetition of the central theme of the book and summaries of some key sources across chapters.

In addition to the comprehensive analysis of the sport/beer/gender nexus, the authors explain a variety of methods adopted to collect their data, which will be of use to scholars interested in undertaking similar work. These methods range from quantitative data collection [End Page 325] and analysis, through to reflexive auto-ethnography. The descriptions of primary data are comprehensive, which makes for engaging and ease of reading for those less familiar with this area of research.

While the over-riding theme of the book is the relationship between sport, beer, and gender, the discussion of gender is variable throughout the chapters. In particular, much of the discussion focuses on males and a specific form of masculinity (rather than plural masculinities), with women’s experiences explored only as they relate to, and are perceived by, men. In places, the terms “gender” and “masculinity” appear to be used almost interchangeably. Accepting that the marginalized and trivialized role of women is key to the central thesis of the discussion of sport and beer; further discussion of women’s lived experiences would be a welcome development of this book. In particular, there is some recognition that as women seek legitimacy...


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pp. 325-326
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