Soviet Muscular Socialism: A Durkheimian Analysis

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Jim Riordan University of Bradford

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As in the West, a sports ideology has developed in the USSR that cultivates irrational loyalties and ascribes similar prominence to the winning of victories, the setting of records, and the collection of trophies, and surrounds these created events with an aura characterized by what can only be termed ballyhoo. All this constitutes a deliberate fetishism of sport. The reasons are complex. One compelling reason, however, would seem to be that sport has undoubtedly been seen as an eminently appropriate device to achieve certain key aims associated with the establishment and maintenance of a new social order. By its inherent qualities, sport has come closest to religious ritual in serving to provide what Emile Durkheim saw as cohesion, solidarity, integration, discipline, and emotional euphoria.

Direct all correspondence to Jim Riordan, Modern Languages Center, University of Bradford, Bradford, West Yorkshire, UK BD7 1DP.
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