School of Business and Law

Inspiring journeys to work

Ground-breaking research project between universities deemed ‘Euro-visionary’

School of Business and Law lecturer, Dr Barbara Grabher, has recently contributed to a research project, commissioned by the British Council, that explores the impact of Eurovision 2023.

The ‘ground-breaking research’ was lead by the University of Hull, in collaboration with the University of Brighton, the University of Glasgow, and Royal Holloway (University of London).

The UK hosted Eurovision 2023 in Liverpool, in honour of Ukraine who won Eurovision 2022.

Co-author and collaborator, Barbara, is a lecturer in events here at the University of Brighton. Her research centres in critical event, gender and environmental studies, with a focus on UK and European cultural capital cities.

She said of the research: “While generally speaking the attention to soft power and cultural relations in regards to events (especially sporting events of a mega scale eg the olympic games, football world cups etc) is well researched, the Eurovision Song Contest as a case study has been regarded only through a limited extend through the lens of soft power and cultural relations.

“In the very particular circumstance where one country (UK) hosts the event on behalf of another (Ukraine), due to an ongoing invasion of the later country, questions regarding the political relevance of the Eurovision Song Contest become a central concern.

“Working with one of the leading scholars in the field of Eurovision research, Catherine Baker (University of Hull), the report accumulates a comprehensive understanding of the correlations between soft power and cultural relations in the context of Eurovision 2023. This report will hopefully inform future research on this subject matter, as the literature review in particular highlights a good baseline from which to embark on future research from.”

What does the research entail?

This newly presented research has been carried out to understand the power and impact on global cultural relations that the UK and Liverpool had during the song contest in 2023.

A huge achievement for all those involved, this project aims to deepen our understanding of the role of Eurovision and mega-events more broadly in international relations, peace, place and in ‘soft power’. The report itself ‘culture, place and partnership’ represents the key legacy of Eurovision 2023 and is its place-based approach. Emphasising its commitment to community engagement and authentic UK/Ukraine co-creation in ways that signal a new way forward for the event.

School of Business and Law’s contribution

Having played such a vital role in the development of the research, Dr Grabher’s words highlight how its impact could further the research in the planning and creation of big scale events like Eurovision. she says that it could,

  • Implement and re-enforce robust equality, diversity and inclusion policy frameworks
  • Ensure city stakeholders are communicating effectively with each other from the outset
  • Consult diverse fan communities, and consider fans without TV show tickets as an audience
  • Consider how official and informal social spaces can facilitate cultural relations
  • Consider what lasting benefits hosting can bring to LGBTQ+ residents

The research puts into perspective how exciting this new dawn of study can be for the genre of event studies.

The university acknowledges the impact that Dr Grabher’s contribution has on the students here at the University of Brighton, even more so those under her teaching in the School of Business and Law.

She said: “The Eurovision Song Contest is a contested case study of great relevance to the programmes of international event management and international tourism management and was the explicit focus in the module TT602 Destination Marketing which is a core module for International Tourism Management and optional module of International Event Management, International Business Management as well as Marketing Management.

“Thanks to the collaboration in the evaluation project, I was able to invite Catherine Baker as a guest lecturer to the module who shared her expertise with Level 6 students.”

It’s clear so much can be gained from delving deeper into Liverpool’s Eurovision influence. Congratulations Dr Grabher for accomplishing an inspiring piece of work.

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Clare Cornwell • February 26, 2024


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