Global Culture and Marketing of FC Barcelona

Universidad Pompeu Fabra

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Global Culture and Marketing of FC Barcelona

  • Host University

    Universidad Pompeu Fabra

  • Location

    Barcelona, Spain

  • Area of Study

    Management, Marketing, Popular Culture Studies, Sports Management

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Course focus and approach:
    This is a course that analyzes the key role of football in the European context within the
    framework of cultural studies, focusing on the historical, sociological and political issues tied to a specific case study: Football Club Barcelona. The course develops critical tools to interpret the significance of sport in the modern era, by highlighting the implications a brand like FCB has in social, cultural and media contexts.

    Course description:
    European football (soccer) has become a major cultural vehicle in the globalized world, both in terms of economical impact and social influence. This course focuses on the links between the game and the different dimensions that surround it: media coverage, symbolic value, political targeting, class and gender issues, or public and corporate policy… FC Barcelona is a unique case study that embodies tensions between European, Spanish and Catalonian national identities while arguably being the most accomplished team of the 21st century in terms of game style. But its significance goes beyond the game itself, blending with global marketing strategies and transnational fandom. We will make the best of being located in Barcelona in order to develop ethnographic research to better understand football as a controversial issue within contemporary popular culture.

    Learning objectives:
    By the end of the course, students will be able to:
    Understand the sociological, cultural and historical issues that shape football as a key Catalan, Hispanic and European phenomenon.
    Develop a critical view of the game’s media coverage as well as the different communication strategies involved.
    Get to know the game’s historical implications in a deeper level, learning to interpret the very styles and structures of football along with its inner symbolism.
    Grasp the links between Barcelona as a contemporary global city and FC Barcelona as a unique team –and club- in football’s history. Visualize and discuss the tensions between culture and marketing, the anthropological and the economic, within the current landscape of monetized sport competitions in a globalized world.

    Course workload:
    The course combines required readings to be discussed in groups with a variety of assignments and field-studies related to how football is experienced in the city, in order to grasp its historical significance critically. Depending on the public protocols and limitations related to
    Covid-19, the specific assignments will be adapted to facilitate the student’s work throughout the course.

    Teaching methodology:
    The course is based on a series of theoretical classes and reading seminars the content of which will be further developed by the students with different tasks and assignments, such as reporting on the media coverage, writing critical essays and making interviews. Other activities involve a field trip to one of the oldest FCB penyes (social clubs). Groups of four/five students will work together reading and researching about specific topics, in order to present their findings within the classroom to the rest of the classmates, promoting a collaborative pedagogy where the key issues have to be presented and discussed collectively. Each group will showcase their work in two ways: a class presentation based on a previous reading (weeks 5 o 8), and a critical research project based on the analysis of a football-related visual motif, submitted as a final group-paper.

    Assessment criteria:
    The course’s assessment comprises the following inputs: group presentation of a reading (30%), a group research project about football and visual motifs (50%), and class assignments (20%).
    There will be two individual class assignments to be handled in weeks 1 and 3.
    The reading presentations are group-based and will be presented during weeks 5 to 8.
    The visual motif final projects are group-based and develop through the whole term. 

    Weekly schedule:
    Week 1
    CLASS 1
    Football Culture: Anthropo-Geographies
    Reading: The Illustrated History of Football
    CLASS 2
    FC Barcelona: History & Sociology I
    Reading: How Football Explains The World
    Week 2
    CLASS 3
    FC Barcelona: History & Sociology II
    Reading: Barça, A People’s Passion J.Burns
    CLASS 4
    FC Barcelona: From History to Tactics
    Reading: Inverting the Pyramid J. Wilson
    Week 3
    CLASS 5
    FC Barcelona: Gameplay & Identity I
    Reading: Another Way of Winning G.Balagué
    CLASS 6
    FC Barcelona: Gameplay & Identity II
    Reading: The Special One Diego Torres
    Week 4
    CLASS 7
    La Masia: Education & Role Models
    Reading: Senda de campeones M.Perarnau
    CLASS 8
    Football and Branding: FCB Transmedia
    Reading: Convergence Culture H. Jenkins
    CLASS 9 – METHODOLOGICAL WORKSHOP I – Football and Visual Motifs
    Week 5
    Football and War, Combat Narratives
    Reading: Dynamo Andy Dougan
    Football: Totalitarianism vs. Democracy
    Reading: Football Against The Enemy S. Kuper
    Week 6 No class, national holiday
    Football, Hooliganism & Mob Mentality
    Reading: Among The Thugs Bill Buford
    Week 7
    Football and Bonding: Being a Fan
    Reading: Fever Pitch Nick Hornby
    Football and Patriarchy: Gender Gaps
    Reading: A Beautiful Game Jean Williams
    Week 8
    Football and Children: Miss-Educations
    Reading: Niños futbolistas J. P. Meneses
    Football, Wellbeing and Public Policy
    Reading: Soccernomics Kuper-Szymanski Week 9
    CLASS 17
    Football & Visual Motifs: Images + Interviews
    CLASS 18
    Football & Storytelling: Hero’s Journey
    Reading: La jugada de mi vida A. Iniesta
    CLASS 19 / FIELD TRIP or GUEST CONFERENCE (depending on Covid-19)
    Week 10
    CLASS 20
    Football & Storytelling: Class Struggles
    Reading: Ken Loach+Sport and Film Crosson
    CLASS 21
    Football & Storytelling: Offside (2006)
    Reading: Sport and Film Seán Crosson

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.


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