Welcoming the World: Governing Hospitality in London's 2012 Olympic Bid

Dan Bulley, Debbie Lisle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


London’s successful bid for the 2012 Olympic Games presented a diverse, cosmopolitan city opening its arms and “welcoming the world.” This article explores the apparently benign gesture of hospitality contained in London’s official candidature files submitted in 2004 and asks how such a promise of inclusiveness is managed. We argue that London’s depiction of itself as hospitable to every kind of visitor relies on subtle techniques of governmentality in which the subject positions of “host” and “guest” are imagined and produced in ways that make them more governable. By this, we are not referring to acts of authority, coercion, or discipline that exclude subjects or render them docile bodies within a rigid panoptical city. Rather, we are referring to the delicate ways in which the official bid document imagines and produces the ideal subject positions of host and guest and in so doing enables, encourages, and incentivizes certain behaviors. This analysis of urban welcoming takes us beyond reductive oppositions of hospitality and hostility, inclusion and exclusion, self and other. It focuses instead on how London’s inclusive welcome produces a variety of host and guest positions (for example, the “Olympic Family,” volunteers, guest workers), segregates them within the city, and then “conducts their conduct” in the areas of planning, security, transport, accommodation, education, and training. By analyzing the techniques of governmentality at work in London’s 2004 bid document, this article foregrounds the enabling form of power driving the city’s inclusive welcome and exposes its inherent micropolitics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-204
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Political Sociology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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