Although there are obvious American influences on Australian popular culture, the term “Americanization” is of limited help in explaining the elaborate form and content of Australian sport. The recent transformation from amateur to corporate sport in Australia has been determined by a complex array of internal and international social forces, including Australia’s polyethnic population, its semiperipheral status in the capitalist world system, its federal polity, and its membership in the Commonwealth of Nations. Americanization is only one manifestation of the integration of amateur and professional sport into the media industries, advertising agencies, and multinational corporations of the world market. Investment in sport by American, British, New Zealand, Japanese, and Australian multinational companies is part of their strategy of promoting “good corporate citizenship,” which also is evident in art, cinema, dance, music, education, and the recent bicentennial festivities. It is suggested that the political economy of Australian sport can best be analyzed by concepts such as “post-Fordism,” the globalization of consumerism, and the cultural logic of late capitalism, all of which transcend the confines of the United States.
Jim McKay is with the Department of Anthropology and Sociology, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Qld. 4072, Australia. Toby Miller is with the School of Humanities, Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA, 6150, Australia.