“He's Still the Winner in My Mind”: Maintaining the Collective Identity in Sport through Social Creativity and Group Affirmation
Social Creativity and Group Affirmation are two strategies by which individuals that identify with a sporting activity, team, group or individual may protect that sense of identification in light of negative events. This paper explores the use of such strategies through examining reactions to doping allegations surrounding Lance Armstrong to explain how members of two brand communities (one based on the brand of Armstrong as cyclist and the other on the brand of Armstrong as cancer survivor) maintain a sense of allegiance. Through undertaking a netnographic approach, six strategies were identified by members of these communities, three of which could be identified as Social Creativity Strategies (Lance Armstrong as “superhuman”, the notion of cycling as a ‘level playing field’, Armstrong as scapegoat) and three as Group Affirmation (Armstrong as a continuing inspiration, the Armstrong legacy, and denial). The two brand communities demonstrated differing patterns of maintenance, with those within the cycling community focusing more upon Social Creativity strategies, whereas those members of the Armstrong as cancer survivor brand tended to focus upon Group Affirmation strategies.
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