conflict & communication online, Vol. 8, No. 2, 2009
ISSN 1618-0747




Nancy K. Rivenburgh
Seeking discursive spaces for peace in media-sport narratives

Peace scholars have emphasized the importance of locating peace education outside of formal education or mainstream political rhetoric and into our daily interactions with media, religion, art, music, or sport. This essay argues that the context of international media-sport, despite its emphasis on confrontation and national competition, may offer what Bruck (1989; 1993) calls ‘discursive opportunities’ or ‘spaces’ for peace. After reviewing the relationships among sport, media, and peace, the author identifies five attributes, or facilitative conditions, that are known to foster cooperative and non-violent intergroup relations and are compatible with media narratives of sport. The attributes, derived from the literatures of intercultural communication, social psychology, and peace studies, include: cooperative framing, humanizing the other, conferring status on international relationships, equalization, and positive expectations through ritualization. Examples of how these attributes may appear as story elements are presented in order to demonstrate that subtle, yet persistent, messages for peace might be located within the dominant media narratives of sport.


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On the author:
Nancy K. Rivenburgh, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington, Seattle, USA. Her research focuses on the media in international relations, including topics such as the Olympic Games as political and cultural communication and the relationship between the media and peace.

Department of Communication, Box 353740, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA