Monday, 14 November 2016

Public Support for Hosting the Olympic Summer Games in Germany: The CVM Approach

Pamela Wicker, German Sport University Cologne, Germany

John C. Whitehead, Appalachian State University, USA

Daniel S. Mason, University of Alberta, Canada

Bruce K. Johnson, Centre College, USA

Many scholars have asked whether Olympic Games hosts get an economic boost, and virtually all of them conclude with a resounding “No!” The new jobs and tax revenues touted by Olympic boosters invariably overstate the actual economic impact. Perhaps that’s why the people of Boston, Munich, and Hamburg have refused to bid for future Olympics in recent years. But on the days when London and Rio de Janeiro learned they would host the Summer Games, Trafalgar Square and Copacabana Beach erupted in massive celebratory parties. How can we square the different reactions in Boston, Munich, and Hamburg with those in London and Rio?

Maybe it’s because new jobs and tax revenues are not the only benefits of hosting the Olympic Games. Maybe intangible benefits, such as hometown pride and national prestige, make people feel better off even if it’s costly.

Our article attempts to answer the question by estimating the value of intangible benefits Germans would expect to enjoy if they hosted the 2024 Summer Olympic Games. In a nation-wide internet survey in late 2013 and early 2014, we asked Germans to imagine they would vote in a hypothetical referendum to raise their own taxes to finance hosting the Olympics in Germany. We asked them how likely they would be willing to vote in favor of higher taxes at seven different tax amounts from €10 to €250. We also asked a series of questions about the intangible benefits, if any, they would enjoy from hosting the Olympics.

This type of survey, borrowed from environmental economics, is known as the Contingent Valuation Method (CVM). It allows us to estimate the monetary value of intangible goods, for which no markets exist. But instead of asking about clean water or scenic vistas, we asked about the national prestige from hosting the Olympics.

In the weighted sample, 26 percent said they were willing to vote in favor of an average of €51 in higher taxes. But willingness to pay varied widely across regions. Around Cologne, Olympic supporters were willing to pay an average of €100, whereas those in Lower Saxony would only pay about €31. The wide variance in regional willingness to pay may prove useful in planning future referenda on hosting the Games. Overall aggregate willingness to pay exceeded €46 billion, far higher than the likely cost of hosting the 2024 Hamburg Olympics. 

Willingness to pay hinged upon several factors. People who regularly play sports, are happy and proud to see German athletes win, and who believe Germany’s reputation is enhanced by German sporting successes are more likely to support higher taxes. But it wasn’t all about sports. Respondents who believed referendums are an appropriate mechanism for such decisions, who think the government can effectively achieve its sports policy goals, and who think these survey results can influence government policy are also more likely to support higher taxes to host the Olympics.

If all this sounds enticing, read our article in Urban Studies. For CVM geeks, we have another reason you might be interested in the article. This paper shows that CVM doesn’t have to revolve around a one-shot dichotomous choice referendum valuation question. It turns out that is the least efficient incentive-compatible valuation question. Our article shows an example of a more efficient method, combining the referendum with a payment card and a five-point Likert scale. 

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Civic Education

John Crossan - University of Strathclyde

I have unhappy memories of trying to make “civics” interesting and exciting in a secondary modern school in southeast London in the late 1960s. The boys did what was asked of them, but they were often bored and frustrated. It seems to me that this subject was seen by politicians and head teachers as being in the elementary-school tradition of imbuing working-class youngsters with an appropriate respect for authority and a clear sense of where they fitted into the social hierarchy. (Chitty, 2010: 376).  

Clyde Chitty’s memories of civic education in 1960s England speak to the constructive interpretation of political education theory. For Geraint Parry (1999: 25), constructive civic education is designed to “redirect the goals and activities of future subjects or citizens towards what are perceived to be national priorities”. This approach teaches politics at a distance, emphasizing a descriptive analysis of existing mainstream political technologies “with the implicit acceptance that everything in the political system is as it should be” (Harber, 1984: 118). Teaching politics at a distance reinforces cultural norms that serve to sustain the status quo. It facilitates the myth of a homogenized citizenry whose multiple contestations are reduced to the claims of ‘the people’. More fundamentally, in terms of producing a citizen who is capable of being governed, this educational model entrenches the idea that most of us are intellectually incapable of operating effectively in the formal political arena (see Schumpeter, 1942) – populated as it is by society’s intellectual elites!    

These days, semblances of civic education are often taught via a variety of ‘multidisciplinary’ and collaborative projects involving schools, civic groups and commercial enterprises. For example, there is Tesco’s ‘From Farm to Fork’ programme. Partnering up with Scout groups, youth clubs and schools, the programme is designed to “help our children have a healthier, happier relationship with food” ( by uncritically situating the contested position of Tesco and other supermarket giants in the UK food industry and culture. Chitty (2010: 374) calls this form of co-opting of education by capitalist interests “subtle indoctrination” and argues that, due to the prevalence of such practices, “education for political awareness is absolutely vital” (ibid).

However, there also exist other more radical collaborative civic education projects that aim to facilitate the production of an active, democratic citizenship; projects that make explicit the links between the formal learning systems associated with the curriculums of primary, higher and further education, and the informal learning experiences that take place in everyday life. Gandin and Apple (2002) argue that such projects are constructing new epistemological understandings about what counts as legitimate knowledge, using the example of ‘Citizen Schools’ in the Brazilian municipality of Porto Alegre to exemplify their case. 

Citizen Schools construct curricula in line with the interests and concerns of host communities, where the production of a formal educational programme is a collaborative endeavour involving teachers and learners, professionals and non-professionals. It is inextricably connected to community and place, although as Gandin and Apple make clear, anchoring the learning experience in the local by no means precludes the study of social content at other scales or from other locations. On the contrary, echoing Massey’s (1991) formative notion of ‘global sense of place’, where place “is extroverted [and] includes a consciousness of its links with the wider world”, course content invites students to repeatedly reinterpret their experiences of their environment in the light of the global flows – cultural, political and economic – that converge on and, in part, produce that environment. 

The Civic Schools of Porte Alegre are linked to larger dynamics of social transformation, encompassed in the participatory budgeting practices of the municipal government. Participatory budgeting aims to reconfigure the relationship between the state and the citizenry in the formation of municipal policy . Cabannes (2004: 45) contends that reaching the level of empowerment required to ensure the success and permanency of participatory budgeting “implies a clear prioritization of civic and popular awareness and education”. In other words, Civic Schools are about educating for active democratic citizenship.   

The Civic Schools of Porte Alegre constitute a pedagogical process that is socially rooted, participatory and outward looking. They make explicit the interconnections between education, society and politics and in doing so open the learner up to a colourful world of democratic practice that goes well beyond the typically unidirectional, top-down impositions of dominant political systems. The aim of this type of education is to embed within the process of citizenship formation constant reinterpretation of experience, and thereby stimulate conscious social reproduction (Gutmann 1987). This is the ideal of democratic politics.


Cabannes, Y (2004) Participatory budgeting: a significant contribution to participatory democracy, Environment and Urbanization, 16, 1, 27-46

Chitty C (2010) Educating for Political Activity, Educational Review, 64, 2, 371-377

Franklin, A., Ho, A., & Ebdon, C (2009). Participatory Budgeting in Midwestern States: Democratic Connection or Citizen Disconnection? Public Budgeting & Finance, 29, 3, 52-73

Gandin L., & Apple M (2002) Thin versus Thick Democracy in Education: Porto Alegre and alternatives to neoliberalism, International Studies in the Sociology of Education, 12, 2, 99-116

Gutmann, A. (1987) Democratic Education, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press

Harber, C (1984) Politics and Political Education in 1984, Educational Review, 36, 2, 113-120

Massey, D (1991) A Global Sense of Place, Marxism Today, June, 24-29

Parry, G (1999) Constructive and Reconstructive Political Education, Oxford Review of Education, 25, 1-2, 23-38

Schumpeter, J (1942) Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, New York: Harper and Brothers

Sintomer, Y., Herzberg, C., & Röcke, A (2008) Participatory Budgeting in Europe: Potentials and Challenges, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 32, 1, 164–178

[1] See Sintomer et al 2008, and Franklin et al 2009 for broader discussions on participatory budgeting experiments across the globe.