When celebrity athletes are 'social movement entrepreneurs': A study of the role of elite runners in run-for-peace events in post-conflict Kenya in 2008
Boit, Michael K.
MetadataShow full item record
This paper reports findings from a study of the role played by high-profile Kenyan runners in the organization of Run-for-Peace events that took place in response to election-related violence in Kenya in late 2007 and early 2008. Acknowledging concerns expressed by some sociologists of sport about the role of celebrity athletes in the sport for development and peace movement, we suggest that in the particular contexts we studied, high-profile athletes played a crucial role in the organization of reconciliation events. Informed by interviews with former and current elite Kenyan runners and others involved in the organization of these events, we argue that the apparent effectiveness of the athletes in mobilizing resources, pursuing political opportunities and devising a collective action frame was possible because of the extant positioning of the athletes in the impacted communities, the active involvement in and personal investment of the athletes in the outcome of the peace-promoting activities, and the unique pre-Olympic moment in which the events took place. In doing so, we differentiate between celebrity athletes who are a ‘presence’ at sport for development and peace events, and those who might be considered ‘social movement entrepreneurs’. We conclude the paper by describing how strands of social movement theory