From the Street to the Stadium and Back Again? An Analysis of the Neoliberalisation of Skateboarding Following its Inclusion into the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Rhys Gazeres De Baradieux

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Using an interrelated mixed-methods approach, this thesis explores how skateboarding’s introduction into the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is ‘neoliberalising’ the practice. It does so through three analytical chapters that explore the governance of skateboarding, the Tokyo 2020 skateboarding event broadcasts, and grassroots skateboarding. Informed by Foucault, I characterise contemporary sport as an example of neoliberal governmentality, working to integrate market logics into everyday values and norms through the production of discourse. I thus draw attention to how themes of competitive individualism, performance maximisation, and rationalisation are becoming more salient throughout the spaces of skateboarding as a result of its Olympic debut.

However, as neoliberalism continues to stamp its mark throughout the social realm, practices are emerging that challenge this, showcasing their resilient qualities and a desire to maintain their status quo. Skateboarding is one such example. Indeed, skateboarders are responding to the ongoing neoliberalisation of their practice through a strong commitment to its core values of community, creativity, comradery, and most importantly, a focus on fun and enjoyment. A second aim of this thesis is thus to bring to attention how skateboarders, despite the introduction of their practice into the Olympic Games, are showing resilience to this new development. Within these spaces, we find alternative modes of social organisation that offer more egalitarian futures.

This thesis therefore contributes to geographical debates on neoliberalisation, showing how sport works both as a site of everyday domination, but also as one for the enactment of ground-up initiatives that challenge the dominant order of discourse, allowing us to imagine futures that are not organised by injustice.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Mould, Oli, Supervisor
  • Crang, Philip, Advisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 Nov 2023
Publication statusUnpublished - 2023


  • Community
  • Cultural geography
  • Social geography
  • Skateboarding
  • Olympic Games
  • Sport
  • Neoliberalism
  • Resilience

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