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Conceptualising Brainwashing: Corporate communication in a concussion crisis.

Piggin, J., Parry, K. D and White, A. J., 2024. Conceptualising Brainwashing: Corporate communication in a concussion crisis. International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics. (In Press)

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DOI: 10.1080/19406940.2024.2312813


Rugby union is one of several sports that is increasingly associated with both short-term and long-term health risks related to traumatic brain injuries sustained while playing the sport. Also in recent years, various sport governing bodies have been shown to have promoted misleading claims about injury. These issues have contributed to what is commonly referred to as a ‘concussion crisis’. In 2021, World Rugby, the global governing body of the Rugby Union, released and promoted a video called “Staying on top of your game: Rugby and brain health”. This video provides an insight into how World Rugby frames the issue of brain injury in the sport of Rugby Union in relation to brain health of players and former players. In this paper we present an analysis of the video, guided by the principles of discourse analysis and Benoit’s (1997) theory of image restoration discourse. Our analysis critiques how rugby union is presented as positive and beneficial for brain health, with its potential to contribute towards neurodegeneration downplayed. Frames of family, inevitability of brain injury, responsibility and balance are used by World Rugby to shape thinking about brain health. Concurrently, the strategies of bolstering and evasion of organisational responsibility are employed to manage the crisis. We build on discourses of washing by proposing the term brainwashing, to describe the tactic of image repair employed by (sport) organisations to focus attention on positive discussions around brain health and away from negative discourses.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Brainwashing; concussion; rugby union; brain health; brain injury
Group:Bournemouth University Business School
ID Code:39400
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:15 Jan 2024 16:43
Last Modified:20 Feb 2024 13:48


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