Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Sociology, Media and socio-cultural communication, Interdisciplinary, History

Publication Details

Connolly, John and Paddy Dolan (2012) ‘Sport, media and the Gaelic Athletic Association: The quest for the “youth” of Ireland’, Media, Culture & Society 34(4): 407–23.


Social developments and related dynamic relationships connected with the sports– media complex is a recurrent focus of sociological investigation. However, in explaining developments in the relationship between sports associations and media organizations the specific structure of power relations between them and other related organizations is often given primacy. We argue that this negates how changes in people’s social habitus – how people think feel and act – are interconnected with and critical to such explanations. Consequently, in this article we apply the theoretical frame of figurational sociology to demonstrate how the gradual development and expansion of specialist communications and media functions in a national sports organization were impelled by several intertwined social processes, including changes in people’s social habitus. Our empirical case study is based on one of the largest sporting and cultural organizations in Ireland, the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). We explain how the GAA felt compelled to increasingly deploy a range of communications, media and marketing specialists in the struggle for media space and as a means to engage, understand and connect with the more nuanced tastes of Irish ‘youth’.