Commercialising national identity: a critical examination of New Zealand's America's Cup campaigns of 1987, 1992 and 1995

Evans, Bryn
Mercer, Brad
Hope, Wayne
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Master of Communication Studies
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Auckland University of Technology

This thesis analyses forms of New Zealand national identity constructed in conjunction with successive America's Cup campaigns in 1987, 1992 and 1995. It is argued that New Zealand national iconography was appropriated by government and corporate interests and utilised as a mechanism for corporate capital accumulation and legitimation.The first New Zealand challenge was set against a background of neo-liberal policy reform initiated by the fourth Labour government in 1984. The comprehensive economic and social policy implementation had multiple negative effects for New Zealand's political economy. This thesis undertakes a comprehensive analysis of these effects and argues that the commitment to neo-liberalism resulted in both the means for a New Zealand America's Cup syndicate and the necessity for an event which could obscure New Zealand's economic decline. National identity was reformulated through America's Cup nationalism to incorporate the values of neo-liberalism.As a result of the entrenchment of neo-liberal values, the needs of corporate interests and state enterprises to define citizens as consumers concluded in the commercialisation of culture. This thesis argues that the pursuit of effective corporate branding strategies led to the appropriation of symbols and images of national identity by corporate interests. The 1992 and 1995 America's Cup challenges represent the convergence of the discourses of sport, media and capitalism under the shared agenda of capital accumulation and legitimation. This convergence was structured around a commercialised conception of national identity which bore little relation to the social and economic reality experienced by many New Zealanders.

America's Cup races , Social aspects , Special events , Marketing , Auckland , Communication studies
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