The antecedents of social legacy
: exploring the role of narrative in mega event ceremonies

  • Libby Carter

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Legacy has increasingly been used to justify and legitimise the vast investments needed to produce mega events (Bocarro et al. 2018). The increased use of legacy has captured the interest of both practitioners and researchers alike, who have considered definitions, measurements and types of legacy (Brittain et al. 2017; Cornelissen et al. 2011; Girginov and Hills 2008; Gold and Gold 2009; Holt and Ruta 2015; Kassen-Noor et al. 2015; Preuss 2007; 2018). There are two gaps within legacy research that this thesis addresses. First, legacy research often focuses on economic legacy drawing from tangible evidence (Bocarro et al. 2018). Therefore, there is a shortage of research surrounding the more intangible side of legacy, including social legacy. Second, the work that is undertaken on social legacy focuses on the mega event itself, neglecting mega event ceremonies. This is surprising due to the large investment, global reach and popularity of such ceremonies. It is therefore important to understand (given their global reach), how such ceremonies can be used as a persuasive tool for potentially impacting more intangible social legacies. By using a case study approach, this thesis focuses on attitude as a critical aspect of social legacy; the way in which mega event ceremonies can leverage legacy through strengthening, changing or developing attitudes of those attending or viewing. More specifically, the thesis aims to understand the effects that a carefully designed narrative can have on influencing consumer attitudes post event as an important aspect of social legacy. To address this aim, data was collected from both producers and consumers of such ceremonies through both social media and interviews. Key findings identify narrative, flow, narrative transportation and co-creation as antecedents of social legacy. Data also suggests learning, change and memory to be key outcomes of ceremonies and as such highlights the importance of incorporating attitude theory. Thus, the ‘antecedents of social legacy model’ is proposed to emphasise the importance of ceremonies as equal drivers of social legacy. By incorporating the above theories into a model this research addresses impact in terms of personal goals which influence consumer attitudes and ultimately impact upon consumer behaviour thus resulting in social legacy. By presenting this model, the following contributions are made. First, this project contributes by applying the extended narrative transformation model (van Laer et al. 2014) to the novel context of ceremonies and thus acknowledges the presence of consumer flow. Second, this thesis highlights learning and enjoyment as aids for overcoming barriers to immersion within a ceremony setting, whilst mapping their circular relationship, thus extending the work of Brown and Cairns (2004). Third, the research uncovers and explains a link between co-creation and social legacy. Although co-creation is acknowledged within event literature (Morgan and Summers 2005; Richards et al. 2015), data suggests that through co-creation, consumers relate more to a ceremony’s narrative and thus are more reciprocal in enhancing its social legacy. Finally, the thesis offers a typology of mega event ceremonies, categorising ceremonies by both their purpose and type (supportive, showcase, attached, stand-alone). Data suggests two distinct purposes of ceremonies: those that support the mega event and those that showcase the host country; and two types of ceremony: those attached to the mega event and those that stand alone. The research also offers a methodological contribution by proposing a step-by-step procedure for collecting and analysing social media data, facilitated by qualitative analysis software NVivo. A novel six-step process is offered, highlighting the challenges and advantages of this method.
    Date of AwardFeb 2020
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorLara Spiteri-Cornish (Supervisor), Edward Turner (Supervisor) & Nigel Berkeley (Supervisor)


    • Social legacy
    • Ceremony
    • Narrative
    • Flow
    • Immersion
    • Narrative Transportation

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