Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Sport in Capitalist Society: A Short History

One of the unexpected joys of maintaining a blog about sport is that, occasionally, people send me books. About sport. For free. The catch is that authors and publishers expect me to review them, no doubt in the hope that a positive piece will prompt you, my legion of followers (yes, both of you), to go out and spend your hard-earned cash on a copy of your own. I must admit that, up until this point, I have been more than a little tardy in my reviews – mostly because I’m still overwhelmed at getting books. About sport. For free.

It’s meant that I haven’t written about titles that do truly deserve both praise and a wide readership. For instance I would heartily recommend David Renton’s Lives; Running, a thoughtful, subtle and sometimes poignant exploration of the relationship between life, running and ‘politics’ with a small ‘p’. Dave Zirin’s last book, Game Over, is an indispensable volume exploring a world in which there is an inevitable collision between sports and politics (this time with a capital ‘P’). As Mark Perryman remarks elsewhere on the blog, “The writing style provides a template for how to mix politics and sport yet keep the reader engaged whose interests leans more towards one or the other. Simply unmissable.” I would add to these David Conn’s wonderful Richer than God: Manchester City, Modern Football and Growing Up, a work combining the best qualities of a top-notch journalist with the voice of a true football fan. For those who want to understand the success of United’s “noisy neighbours” and the way the people’s game has become a plaything for the rich this is an essential read.

Yet I’m more than willing to temporarily shed my lethargy in order to review the latest work to drop through the letterbox - Tony Collins’ Sport in Capitalist Society: A Short History. Collins is Professor of History at De Montfort University and Director at their International Centre for Sports History and Culture. For two decades he has been producing original and insightful works of sports history, most notably the excellent Rugby’s Great Split and A Social History of English Rugby Union. More importantly Collins writes authoritatively and interestingly from the left, his works infused with working class voices and a sensitivity to questions of oppression and disadvantage. All of which is underpinned by an acute understanding, and unrelenting critique, of how capitalism has shaped the games we choose to play and watch.

When I first met Tony at a sports historians conference – yes, they do exist and yes, they can be as dull as they sound – he told me of how colleagues had rather disdainfully informed him that Marxism could not explain the development of modern sport. Sport in Capitalist Society is his reply, one that claims “far from the purity of sport being ‘corrupted’ by capitalism, modern sport is as much a product of capitalism as the factory, the stock exchange and unemployment line.” It is by necessity an ambitious piece, taking the birth of modern sports in eighteenth century Britain as its starting point, tracing their development via the impact of imperialism, the worker sport movement and the rise of global media, before concluding by posing the question “what future for sport?”

Along the way Collins devotes chapters to issues surrounding both sexism and racism in sport – thus avoiding the usual academic accusation that those of us writing from the left have no interest in social divisions other than class. Particularly interesting is Collins’ exploration of the way in which the success of Soviet female athletes at Olympic Games during the Cold War formed the context for both the moral panic around the use of performance enhancing drugs and what Collins calls “gender paranoia”. The West – and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) – explained the women’s performances in one of two ways: either as the result of steroid abuse or because they were men. Thus in 1966 compulsory gynaecological tests were introduced for female Olympic athletes:
“The IOC’s ignorance was matched only by its insensitivity, which meant that women with an unusual genetic make-up or biological disorder who ‘failed’ the test were publically humiliated and often confronted with evidence of a medical condition of which they were previously unaware. Not a single man posing as a woman was ever unmasked by a sex-test.”
It may seem an unfair criticism given that he deals with nigh-on three hundred years of history with an analysis that stretches across the entire globe, but it is disappointing that Collins does not find more room for a discussion of sports and sexuality – “homosexuality” is indexed twice; “homophobia” not at all. It is an omission all the more striking given what has happened post-publication, with the recent announcement by Thomas Hitzlsperger, as well as British diver Tom Daley, footballer Robbie Rodgers and basketball player Jason Collins coming out as gay, not to mention the continuing controversy over the forthcoming Sochi Winter Olympics and the attitude of the Russian government to the LGBTQ community. I would also be keen to read more of Collins’ thoughts on disability sport and the Paralympics.

Although a whole host of other writers, not least Collins himself, have produced books which chart the rise of certain individual sports or specific historical periods, few have attempted works of similar historical scope. There are of course exceptions and one may point to Richard Holt’s pioneering Sport and the British, or Derek Birley’s Sport and the Making of Britain. Collins’ work certainly possesses the same encyclopaedic feel of these texts (a wealth of footnotes, some 569 in total, punctuate the book’s 129 pages) Yet Sport in Capitalist Society offers something lacking from other books, namely an over-arching narrative capable of explaining the development of sport in Britain and its subsequent spread around the world.

Historians and theorists have long pondered the causal factors which might explain the codification of games during the 1700s, though none have produced systematic nor, in my opinion, particularly convincing accounts. In his book From Ritual to Record, Allen Guttmann advances the notion that modern sports were a corollary of the “advancement of science” before borrowing notions from Weberian sociology to conclude that “Sports are an alternative to and, simultaneously, a reflection of the modern age … they are the rationalization of the Romantic.” Despite its liberal idealism Guttmann’s is an argument with some merit, although the author offers little with which to substantiate his claim. 

Richard Holt, in the aforementioned Sport and the British, deploys the German sociologist Norbert Elias’ idea of the ‘civilizing process’ to explain the death of traditional games and recreations. The theory asserts that society has, over centuries, experienced (in Holt’s words) “a long-term shift in the threshold of shame and embarrassment”. Sports were not immune from this “subtle and diffuse cultural shift” which led to, among other things, the use of cutlery, the washing of clothes and “not urinating or picking your nose in front of others”. Certainly some traditional pastimes did come under attack for their cruelty and barbarity, most notably activities such as cock-fighting and bull-baiting. What the civilization thesis fails to explain, however, is how and why some social classes remained relatively immune to the changes in cultural values. The upper classes certainly did not refrain from fox hunting or grouse shooting. The nascent working class did not abandon blood sports; they were banned as a result of a campaign originating in the middle class. The context in which to understand the death of traditional games is the privatization of common land and the concomitant subordination of the rural to the urban. It still baffles me that a historian of Holt’s stature, in a work of genuine quality, should omit any mention of enclosures.

Competitive, physical games did of course exist prior to the eighteenth century but, as Collins points out, “the idea of commonly agreed, national, written laws governing the playing of sport did not exist.” By the 1750s, however, “a fundamental and qualitative shift in the nature of the three most prominent British sports – horse racing, boxing and cricket – was taking place.” Why then does this shift occur? Collins answers unequivocally: “The introduction of codes of rules [in sport] that were accepted by all players and for all major contests were a direct consequence of the commercial development of sport.”

Perhaps one sees this most forcefully in the first codified laws for boxing, Broughton’s Rules (1743). Of the seven rules, three outlined what constituted victory, while another stipulated how prize money was to be distributed. They therefore represented an attempt to facilitate gambling as much as to define the boundaries of competition. The rules of any given sport could be changed to make contests more exciting or simplified in order to attract more spectators. The laws of supply and demand, and the primacy of the cash nexus, therefore exerted considerable influence over the process of codification.

However there is a slight problem here. If one looks at the history of cricket then it certainly fits this schema for the majority of its existence. But the initial drive to codification seems to have been the result of upper class members of London sports clubs attempting to shape the games they enjoyed playing themselves. To suggest this is the result of commercialism seems, to me at least, to stretch the historical evidence. I have long thought that the development and theorisation of the state, for instance, provided the ideological context to codification. The rich and the titled were organising their own play along similar lines to the way in which they were organising society. And, after all, nationally agreed sets of rules do rather presuppose the existence of the modern nation state. But this is nothing more than a minor quibble.

Sport has long been in need of a rigorous, historical materialist analysis. On those occasions when people on the left have written about sports – I’m thinking especially of Jean-Marie Brohm’s Sport - A Prison of Time and Marc Perelman’s recent Barbaric Sport: A Global Plague­ – the results have been one-dimensional, dreadfully mechanical caricatures of what I would consider genuine Marxism. Invariably they are characterised by a tendency to prioritise assertion over evidence and both take a distinctly patronising attitude towards working class sports fans. Thankfully Collins avoids the twin pitfalls of these works, instead constructing a detailed and nuanced narrative chronicling and explaining the rise and evolution of modern sport.

Moreover he demonstrates time and again that sport is itself an arena in which social struggles can manifest themselves. Whereas Brohm and Perelman see sport purely as the modern opiate of the masses, Collins reminds us that sport is contested – the debates in post-revolutionary Russia during the 1920s, the clenched fist salutes of Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the demonstrations and protests of people living in the nations and cities chosen to host the Olympic and FIFA World Cup mega-events. And while he never loses sight of sport’s “essential conservatism” he makes no apology for being a fan, even if the future is uncertain:
“As to the future, it is impossible to know how a society that has freed itself from capitalism will play or watch sport. Like many other forms of culture that have emerged out of capitalism, sport is unlikely to lose its appeal, even in a society where unceasing competition has been replaced by cooperation. Its ability to offer the emotional experience of triumph and tragedy to participants and spectators is too potent. But, at the very least, we can hope that in a society in which art, culture and humanity itself have been freed from the exploitation, bigotry and oppression of capitalism, sport may play a positive role in helping men and women to reach the fullest extent of their mental and physical potential.”
It would be easy to conclude by stating this book is a must for any student of sports history. It would be easy because it’s true. The all-encompassing scope, accessible style and flashes of humour and wit make Sport in Capitalist Society an ideal work for those seeking to comprehend the trajectory of modern sports. Yet this would be to vastly underestimate the importance of the book. Collins has produced a convincing account of the history of sports, from their birth to their current corporatized incarnation, from a Marxist perspective. To my knowledge that makes this book one of a kind.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Bill Shankly - Red or Dead

"Why did they make you almost into a god? Because I mean, you were their man, weren’t you?”

Bill Shankly is legend. Bill Shankly was born in a Scottish mining village, surrounded by poverty and hunger. Bill Shankly was the lad who worked down the pit before unemployment came and before football offered an escape. Bill Shankly was the player that captained Scotland. Bill Shankly was the man that became a manager. Bill Shankly was the manager that took Liverpool Football Club from mediocrity to greatness. Bill Shankly is legend. Bill Shankly is important for those people who, like me, are both a Red and a Red. Bill Shankly was a socialist. With considerable style David Peace’s book, Red or Dead, tells his story:
“In 1959, Liverpool Football Club were in the Second Division. Liverpool Football Club had never won the FA Cup. Fifteen seasons later, Liverpool Football Club had won three League titles, two FA Cups and the UEFA Cup. Liverpool Football Club had become the most consistently successful team in England. And the most passionately supported club. Their manager was revered as a god. Destined for immortality. Their manager was Bill Shankly. His job was his life. His life was football. His football a form of socialism. Bill Shankly inspired people. Bill Shankly transformed people. The players and the supporters.”
And Red or Dead is very much the story of Bill Shankly, a point that Peace is keen to emphasise, “This book is a work of fiction. And so this book is a novel.” It is also a fascinating book – as much for the style in which Peace writes as for the subject matter. Reading its 700 plus pages reminded me of the time when, going through a religious phase aged 12 or 13, I tried to read the Bible: the dull repetitive staccato sentences, the creation of a singular voice shared by all the characters. At times one half expects to read how Shankly begat Paisley, who in turn begat Fagan, who then begat Dalglish...

In one way it's a deeply alienating style of writing, one where you can't help but want to skip whole paragraphs, occasionally whole pages, which you recognise from previous chapters. As David Renton remarks in his review, the work can become "beige"; the excitement of football matches dismissed in a single line. Yet the prose lends itself well to the cycle of the football seasons and the monotony of training. It attempts, with moderate success, to give a collective voice to the Liverpool fans. When the style begins to fracture in the latter stages of the book it brilliantly captures Shankly’s post-retirement disorientation. Bereft of the certainties and routine of the game he loved, Shankly is left with memories, old age and the regret born of mortality. “I only wish,” says Shankly, “that I could do it all over again.”

But in one way, one very specific way, Red or Dead works sublimely. With no quotation marks and no footnotes one is never sure what is historical fact and what is artistic license. By fusing biography, history and fiction, Peace is, in effect, writing myth. It is a style well suited to Bill Shankly who, like no other manager, lends himself to the process of mythologizing. There have, of course, been other great managers, other great characters. But none match Shankly.

Matt Busby, Shankly’s close friend, achieved greatness with Manchester United, but his story was always too painful, too tragic, too real to become myth. Alex Ferguson’s legend is still in the making and has grown under the constant glare of rolling news coverage and an explosion of sports journalism. Brian Clough, so successful and so adept at the one-liner, perhaps comes closest; his myth enhanced not so much by what he achieved as what might have been – had the Football Association ever allowed him to manage the English national side. The difference between Shankly and Clough is encapsulated in a single word. Legacy.

Shankly is the embodiment of the origin myth. Shankly was the beginning of the Liverpool way, the Anfield way, the bootroom, the thirty years of unprecedented success. Liverpool can boast other managers with greater achievements - Paisley with his three European Cups, Dalglish and his Double winning side of 1986 - but their success was built on Shankly’s work. It was Shankly who laid the foundations, constructed the team, envisaged the potential of a side struggling in the second tier of English football. If the club fell by the wayside in the 1990s it was because they had forgotten all that He had taught them.

And as with all myths, at least those with some basis in reality, the writer has a tendency to accentuate the positive and downplay the less appealing aspects of its subject. Peace is no different. Shankly is a master tactician, a motivator and a shrewd operator in the transfer market. Of this there is little doubt. But only passing reference is made to the fact that he was underwritten by substantial sums of hard, cold cash. Shankly broke the club transfer record on numerous occasions; he made Alun Evans the first £100,000 teenager. Success could not have come otherwise.

It is an interesting consideration given the way in which Shankly’s politics are alluded to continually throughout Red or Dead. Shankly was a Christian socialist, at the heart of the people’s game, and playing that game by capitalism’s rules. He was a man with illusions in politicians and the Labour Party, an advocate of a fairer society, a believer in the benefits of hard work and discipline. “But my mother never believed in holidays,” Peace has Shankly say. ”She used to say. Every day you wake up and you can get up and you can do your work, that is a holiday. That is what she believed. That is how she raised us.”

Shankly breathed his politics into his team, where no one player was more important than the whole: “Liverpool depend on each other. It’s collective. Everyone working for each other. It is a kind of socialism. Pure socialism. Everyone doing what they can for the rest”. For Shankly, the people who stood on the Kop were part of that collective. The most important part. That is why he spent countless hours individually answering sacks full of mail from fans. That is why he gave away free tickets whenever and wherever he could. That is why he would play twenty-aside games with kids at the local rec. He understood what it cost the working class supporters, financially and emotionally, whenever the team lost. That is why his myth is so persistent. That is why, when Liverpool’s billionaire owners were tearing the club apart, the fans who fought back could think of no better name than The Spirit of Shankly.

If David Peace had set out to write a biography of Shankly, Red or Dead would have been a failure – albeit a glorious one. Instead, with considerable courage , he recounts and in turn helps create Shankly, the man, the myth, the legend.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Where Are The Workers Today? Notes on the 2011 Census

This is a guest post by Junie Morrison.

The 2011 Census provides very useful information for those of us interested in the shape of the working class today. Its data is to be considered as subject to the changes of the last two and a half years – especially in the light of on-going austerity – but it is by far largest study of the UK populace, dwarfing the often quoted Labour Force Survey (which is carried out by telephone with often unsympathetic respondents). There will be comrades far better placed than me to provide analysis so I have just made some observations that seem to me interesting and pertinent.

Please note all figures are for England and Wales only.


Counted here is the type of work an employees  employer (or self-employed person) does, not what they do themselves, so a secretary in a school would be classified under education, a cook in a open-pit mine staff canteen (provided it is run in-house) under quarrying, etc.

On the outputted table that provides the most detailed breakdown of Industry yet released – KS605EW (population: Usual residents (i.e. not a short-term migrant (intends to stay less than 12 months), working, aged 16-74) – shows this breakdown –

Of 26,526,336 people aged between 16-74 in employment in March 2011 –

227,286 or 0.9% were working in Agriculture, forestry and fishing.
46,478 or 0.2% in Mining and quarrying.
2,369,998 or 8.9% in Manufacturing.
151,051 or 0.6% in Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply.
187,616 or 0.7% in Water supply; sewage, waste management and remediation activities.
2,043,229 or 7.7% in Construction.
4,220,124 or 15.9% in Wholesale or retail trade (including the repair of motor vehicles and motor cycles).
1,313,316 or 4.9% in Transport and storage.
1,484,838 or 5.6% in Accommodation and food service activities.
1,055,356 or 4% in Information and communication.
1,145,488 or 4.3% in Financial and insurance activities.
384,499 or 1.4% in Real Estate activities.
1,745,743 or 6.6% in Professional, scientific and technical activities.
1,293,788 or 4.9% in Administrative and support services
1,591,614 or 6% in Public administration and defence; and compulsory social security.
2,628,063 or 9.9% in Education.
3,318,464 or 12.5% in Human health and social work activities.
The 1,319,385 (5%) remaining were classified as other, a category that included the arts, entertainment, miscellaneous service sector and the activities of private households.

·         So these figures reassert the importance of retail and wholesale to contemporary British capitalism,. If you include the related service sector ‘Accommodation and food service activities’ it employs over 20% of those in employment in England and Wales.

·         Nearly 29% of all those working are employed in the three categories ‘Public administration and defence, compulsory social security’, ‘Education’ and ‘Human health and social work activities’. The overwhelming majority of these will be public sector workers. The Education sector contains nearly 10% of all workers. Health and social work over 12%.

·         Manufacturing still employed more people than ‘Information and communication’ and ‘Financial and insurance activities’ combined in March 2011 but only 1.2% less than the Construction sector.

So here we can see how British capitalism makes use of the workforce in the neo-liberal era.

How people are employed

Of the 26,526,336 aged between 16 and 74 people doing some kind of paid work, 25,449,863 were not full-time students. Of these 21,462,202 were employees (84.3%) and 3,987,661 were self employed.

Of the 21,462,202 employees 15,815,912 were employed full-time (73.7%) and 5,646,290 were employed part-time.

Of course the above figures do not distinguish between employers, management and workers. Looking at some other tables may help us to draw some conclusions here.


This relates to the jobs people do within an organisation (or in self-employment) no matter what the business of that organisation.

On the outputted table that provides the most simple breakdown of Occupation – KS608EW (population: Usual residents (i.e. not a short-term migrant (intends to stay less than 12 months), working, aged 16-74) –

Of 26,526,336 people aged between 16-74 in employment in March 2011 –

2,860,702 or 10.8% were ‘Managers, directors or senior officials’.
4,615,759 or 17.4% had ‘Professional occupations’.
3,366,313 or 12.6% had ‘Associate professional or technical occupations’.
3,034,637 or 11.4% had ‘Administrative or secretarial occupations’.
3,041,957 or 11.5% had ‘Skilled trades occupations’.
2,492,117 or 9.4% were in ‘Caring, leisure and other service sector occupations’
2,240,869 or 8.4% were in ‘Sales and customer service occupations’
1,919,017 or 7.2% were ‘Process, plant and machine operatives’.
2,954,965 or 11.1% were in ‘Elementary occupations’.

The first thing that needs staying here is these categories need taking with a pinch of salt. Taken in the spirit of bourgeois sociology a category like ‘professional occupations’ could be highly misleading, for instance, it groups traditionally middle class occupations like architect and legal professionals in the same categories as extremely skilled jobs like nursing and midwifery that are often done by working class women on low pay. Similarly librarians fall into ‘professional occupations’ when both their pay and responsibilities vis-à-vis other staff may be no more than the average administrative white collar worker.

However, other categories in this table do allow us to make some fairly sound assumptions. The first category listed above ‘Managers, directors and senior officials’ gives us a fairly sound figure of people who have direct power over workers in terms of being able to make decisions about their continued employment, administering penalties, etc. Outside of any straight-up members of the bourgeoisie this category contains the major part of the workforce that disciplines labour on their behalf.

The category skilled trades occupations we can assume would be made up of both skilled workers that work as employees, self-employed workers and tradesmen of the petit-bourgeois type that both work and employ staff.

The category ‘Administrative or secretarial occupations’ and the five categories listed below it makes a total of 15,683,562 or 59.1% of the working. I would argue that the overwhelming majority these people can be defined as working class. Huge percentages of other categories are likely to be also filled with people which can easily be defined as workers.

A conclusion that seems apparent even from this simple 9 category breakdown is that the working class is stratified in ways far more complex than the press and propaganda of the activist left often suggests. When looking at the above categories we can see that there is huge variation people employed in wage labour in terms general tasks and responsibilities, working environment and experience of workplace representation.

Occupation (detailed)

However, it is useful to look at occupation in more detail using the dataset QS606EW.

This table (population: Usual residents (i.e. not a short-term migrant (intends to stay less than 12 months), working, aged 16-74) shows breakdown for specific types of employment.

Taking a sample of jobs that may be of interest to leftists because i) they are in sectors that are currently estimated as strongholds of the trade union movement or ii) uncomplicatedly working class jobs where unionisation is low and/or that there should be a serious effort to organise in.
Counting those working in these particular occupations as of March 2011 in England and Wales there were-
1,154,905 - Teaching and education professionals.
556,471 - Nursing and Midwifery professionals
412,872 - Administrative occupations: Government and related organisations.
644,829 - Administrative occupations: Finance.
381,381 - Administrative occupations: Records.
772,133 – Secretarial and related occupations
71,069 – Other drivers and transport operatives (i.e not road transport or construction machinery operatives)
279,836 - Metal machining, Fitting and Instrument making trades.
456,051 - Food preparation and Hospitality trades.
730,177 – Childcare and related personal services
1,079,488 – Caring personal services.
125,999 - Housekeeping and related services
1,552,710 – Sales assistants and retail cashiers
355,377 – Customer service occupations (not management)
206,311 - Assemblers and routine operatives
71,334 – Elementary agricultural occupations.
244,520 - Elementary process plant operatives
696,100 – Elementary cleaning occupations
402,782 – Elementary storage occupations.
777,077 – Other Elementary Services occupations.
Here we can see that while the top three categories make up a significant part of the unionised nowadays, other huge sectors are massive underrepresented. The grouping of 'Elementary occupations' contains workers absolutely key to British capital in low paid undervalued jobs; many of these workers – especially in manufacturing and storage – could have significant disruptive power. The lowest level retail jobs and care occupations are again low paid occupations that employ well over a million workers each. It should be clear to any union activist that these sectors need a massive unionisation push if the idea of the working class mobilising as a hegemonic bloc is ever to become more than a pipe dream.
National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (NS-SeC)
As I mentioned above as socialists we should treat official statistics relating to categories approximating social class with strong reservations. These categories are based upon often superficial definitions of tasks and responsibilities people do in their employment, not their place in relation to the means of production. Nonetheless the NS-SeC category if thought about sensibly can be useful.
The dataset KS611EW (population: Usual residents (i.e. not a short-term migrant (intends to stay less than 12 months), working, aged 16-74) approximates people to various groupings based on what they do in their current or last form of paid work. Please see http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/guide-method/classifications/current-standard-classifications/soc2010/soc2010-volume-3-ns-sec--rebased-on-soc2010--user-manual/index.html for further details.
Of the 41,126,540 usual residents aged between 16 and 74 in England and Wales on Census day 2011:
967,013 (2.3%) are classified in ‘Large employers and higher managerial and administrative occupations’. This is where the occupy movements 1% and their immediate underlings are likely to be classified (excepting relatives that have never worked, etc.). Large employers are ‘people who employ others (and so assume some degree of control over them) in enterprises employing 25 or more people, and who delegate some part of their managerial and entrepreneurial functions to salaried staff’. ‘Higher managerial and administrative occupations’ are ‘positions in which there is a service relationship with the employer, and which involve general planning and supervision of operations on behalf of the employer’. 
3,253,752 (7.9%) and 8,571,468 (20.8%) are classified in ‘Higher professional occupations’ and ‘Lower managerial, administrative and professional occupations’ respectively. These figures should come with some of the same caveats are noted for occupation.
5,240,440 (12.7%) are classified in ‘Intermediate occupations’ which are ‘positions in clerical, sales, service and intermediate technical occupations that do not involve general planning or supervisory powers’.
3,872,779 (9.4%) are or were ‘Small employers and own account workers’. Small employers are ‘people, other than higher or lower professionals, who employ others and so assume some degree of control over them. These employers carry out all or most of the entrepreneurial and managerial functions of the enterprise and have fewer than 25 employees’. The category ‘Own account workers’ relates to ‘self-employed positions in which people are engaged in any (non-professional) trade, personal service, or semi-routine, routine or other occupation but have no employees other than family workers’.
2,857,185 (6.9%) are classified in ‘Lower supervisory and technical occupations’
5,789,519 (14.1%) are classified in ‘Semi-routine occupations’: Positions with a slightly modified labour contract, in which employees are engaged in semi-routine occupations.
4,564,916 (11.1%) are classified in ‘Routine occupations’: Positions with a basic labour contract, in which employees are engaged in routine occupations.
So of all those that are classified as having a socio-economic classification (i.e. working or have worked recently enough to qualify) again we see that those are or were higher managers or professionals are just over ten per cent.
All tables noted in this piece are freely available from the Office for National Statistics and Census websites.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year Sports Resolutions

Mark Perryman from Philosophy Football offers ten resolutions to spice up how we enjoy the sports we love in 2014

Too much Christmas pud, cake and ale over the seasonal break? Feet up in front of the TV for an indecent chunk of the duration? Sport defined as watching it rather than doing it? The first few weeks of January are often the period to make a personal pledge to get active, lose those bulges and finally dust off those long-forgotten running shoes, a bike, pair of swimming trunks or whatever and put them to the use they were intended for. A month later ending up back at square one, well that’s certainly the case for most of modern, inactive, Britain. Why has sport evolved into a multibillion global industry yet activity plummets, obesity rockets? This New Year resolution reading list might help us to understand why, and vitally do something about it too.

One: Understand London 2012 as a magnificent spectacle. With the same applying to all other mega-event sports, in 2014 we will have the Winter Olympics, World Cup and Commonwealth Games. Volume Two of the Handbook of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games provides the most authoritative account available of the mediated impact of those Games while casting an admirably critical eye over any likelihood that they will result in their number one claim, to significantly boost participation in sport. To enjoy the potential sport has for human liberation we need to revive and reinvent such critical awareness of what it has become.

Two: Appreciate the reasons for sport’s global appeal. Globalisation is anything but ‘natural’, it is shaped by economic and technological forces and factors. But by culture and politics too. Dominic Malcolm’s Globalizing Cricket places the spread of this most imperial of sports firmly within the context of Englishness and empire to produce an absolutely fascinating read.

Three: Explore the pre-history of current sportswriting. The ‘new’ sportswriting was effectively invented a little over twenty years ago by Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch sparking a revolution in publishing that lasts to today. But there’s a heritage too of good writing that is worth discovering to inform and inspire. The Sports Classics series from Aurum Press includes The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn, a book about Baseball widely regarded as the finest sports book ever written. Outside the comfort zone of the sports we are perhaps more used to reading about we can best appreciate the special emotional appeal that sport at its best possesses.

Four: Provide some context to the massive appeal of the Premiership. A money-dominated top division where finishing fourth is everything, ticket prices some 10 times higher than in the vastly superior Bundesliga and clubs have become a status symbol plaything for the Global idle rich. From behind closed doors the scrupulously anonymous Tales from the Secret Footballer provides an unrivalled insight into the reality of what used to be a sport. Does this mean football can’t ever be special? Of course not, there are teams, players, managers who help to create goals, matches, trophy-wining campaigns that have everything a fan could wish for. And one of those who can achieve all of this is the self-appointed ‘Special One’, Jose Mourinho, whose career has been incisively analysed by Ciaran Kelly in his up-to-date account, The Rise of the Translator.

Five: Living in the past is not such a bad thing. At Philosophy Football our maxim is Against Mod£rn Football. And it seems we are not alone. The Lost World Of Football is a hugely evocative pictorial memorial to the innocence of a game before it became a business. Each page filled with the iconic paraphernalia of a homespun fandom that shaped a generation's adolescence but allowed us the space to make our own dreams. And take a look too at the latest collection from football’s finest photographer , Stuart Roy Clarke. Stuart describes his subject as ‘the homes of football’ and in Where The Heart Is he captures beautifully and with considerable visual imagination the people who live their lives in those ‘homes’. Of course nostalgia for a past has a habit of glossing over the contradictions that constructed all our fond memories of yesteryear. A fun, but meaningful way or rediscovering their meanings is provided by Paul Simpson and Uli Hesse’s splendid Who Invented the Stepover?. A highly readable alternative history of a beautiful game turned ugly.

Six: Celebrating sport as popular internationalism. The World Cup, no other single event comes close to representing in the sharpest manner possible sport’s twin impulses. The most vicious forms of a petty-minded version of nationalism vs a shared global language of joy and despair. James Moor’s Grobar may be the uproarious story of watching Belgrade’s Partizan but strip away the specifics of Serbian football and it could be a tale of watching any club, anywhere. That's not to say the local doesn’t matter, James Moor catches the conditions that shape Serbian football very well, but those commonalities matter too, its what makes sport such a powerful link between people of different cultures and countries. The Football Tourist by Stuart Fuller reveals in glorious detail the wonderful experience that enjoying football’s international appeal can provide. Stuart does this by hunting down a game to watch and a trip to make, around Europe. Made easy and cheapish thanks to the internet and bargain-basement air travel, it is an experience with a growing appeal for many fans. Germany’s Bundesliga is one of the most popular destinations for a footballing weekend to remember, and well-planned no more expensive, including flights and hotels, than an over-priced and over-hyped Premiership game either. Tempted? Uli Hesse’s Tor! is the essential guide to the history of the current powerhouse of European football, Germany. Now fully updated, the past and present of German football is told in fascinating detail. Or if you prefer a weekend visit to Barcelona with a game at the Nou Camp thrown in for good measure, then have a read of Messi by Guillem Balague. Most player biographies are embarrassingly unreadable, this one is most certainly not. The story of what many regard as the world’s best, though my vote for that title goes to Cristiano Ronaldo, helps us to understand the making of a footballing great, and in the hands of such a gifted writer as Guillem Balague it is a tale that teaches much about Argentina, Spanish football and the global game too.

Seven: Wearing T-shirts is not enough. The inestimable Kick it Out Campaign  have done more than most to highlight the enduring presence of racism in a football culture supposedly based on the philosophy ‘sport for all’. A new collection edited by David Hassan Ethnicity and Race in Association Football provides an understanding of the complexities of discrimination, inequality and exclusion that frame racism in football way beyond the monkey chants and racist abuse we are perhaps more used to denouncing. With examples from across European, African and North American football it is a collection that also provides a rare global perspective on the subject. But however deep our understanding of, and opposition to, racism there is also a pressing need for a positive agenda towards social change through sport. Fan Culture in European Football and the Influence of Left Wing Ideology is a quite amazing book for those committed to such a goal (sic). Editors David and Peter Kennedy have brought together stories from Bosnia, Germany, Spain, Italy and Scotland to reveal a rare trend in English football, of fan cultures shaped by Left ideals and organisation, and those ideals and organisation in turn shaped by this process as well. Read this extraordinary collection for a glimpse of the glorious possibilities.

Eight: The Tour de France 2014 is well worth getting excited about. A global sporting event, that is free to watch. Which starts in Leeds via Harrogate, York and Sheffield. The roads the stars of this sport ride the likes of you and me can ride in their tracks too. Oh, and the chances of a Brit winning it are a darn sight better than England lifting the World Cup next year The Tour de France is of course a business like any other major sporting event but on the road, downhill or up mountains it is far closer to the people than most. Local yet global, sponsored but along a route so long never entirely in the grip of the sponsors. Watched on free-to-air terrestrial TV . Absolutely French in origin, culture and final destination, but truly European in the manner it is enjoyed. Last year’s Team Sky performance on the Tour is captured with fantastic photography and a richly informative stage-by-stage diary in The Pain and the Glory. 2013 was the year of course of Team Sky‘s second successive triumph in the Yellow Jersey. Author David Walsh made his reputation as a sportswriter painstakingly building the case to expose Lance Armstrong as a drug cheat. His new writing venture we must hope will never need an update to add those kinds of revelations to the text. Instead his Inside Team Sky uncovers the regime that has helped create the most successful British sport of modern times, cycling. From the Olympic Track to first the World Road Championships and then finally, and most recently the British Tour De France wins. It is the latter that David Walsh provides an insight into with a degree of honesty few other writers can come close to matching. A brilliant read.

Nine: Cycling deserves its own version of long-form writing and has found it. My choice for The Sports Book of the New Year is edited by Ellis Bacon and Lionel Birnie, The Cycling Anthology. In recent years sportswriting journals consisting of long-form journalism have emerged, including on football The Blizzard and on cricket The Nightwatchman. Now The Cycling Anthology provides the best of the lot. Writing that effortlessly mixes the grassroots with the elite, the local and the international, the historical with the cultural. Providing the space for writers to be both current and topical, but to write with with the depth and the length cycling deserves. My one criticism? The maleness. To effectively represent a new and fresh way to write about cycling demands a challenge to the masculine hegemony sport too easily affords as somehow natural. On the track Britain’s women cyclists are every bit as successful as the men, and given the opportunity on the road too. This deserves representing on the page. Only three issues old, there’s plenty of time to put that right. Independently published to date in 2014’s year of Le Tour starting in Yorkshire the journal is set to be republished under the wing of the leading sports publisher Yellow Jersey Press affording it the backing to make the impact such good sportswriting deserves to make and my tip for the read of 2014.

Ten: Sport at its sublime best is a symbol of human liberation. We do it, because we can. So where are my bike lights? its dark and cold but not too wet and I have East Sussex’s version of a mountain, Ditchling Beacon to ride up. Enjoy the sporting year.

Note: No links in this review are to Amazon. If you can avoid making a purchase from the tax-dodgers, please do so.

Mark Perryman is the co-founder of the self-styled ‘sporting outfitters of intellectual distinction’ aka Philosophy Football