Volunteers’ embodied experience at a sport festival

Steven Owen, Donna Chambers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article we argue that extant research in event studies on volunteering has predominantly been conducted through disembodied managerial lenses using formulaic conceptual frames. This has resulted in the neglect of more phenomenological approaches that explore volunteers' lived experiences. Using the example of the 2018 Tall Ships festival in the provincial North East English city of Sunderland, we draw on embodiment theory to fill this gap in event management research. Utilizing in-depth, semistructured interviews with 31 local volunteers, our main findings are twofold. First, they highlight the complexities and fluidity of local volunteers' lived experiences of the festival that reflect a multitude of interrelated elements that are corporeal, emotional, and multisensory. Second, these embodied experiences, combined with knowledge of self and place, create fresh, vivid, and subjective meanings that collapse the past, present, and future of postindustrial places riddled by economic decline. Our focus on the volunteer experience in the medium term after the event has occurred represents a distinctive timeline as it provides insights into how volunteers interpret, remember, and reconfigure their experience beyond initial euphoria and before long-term nostalgia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)747-761
Number of pages15
JournalEvent Management
Issue number4
Early online date15 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2022
Externally publishedYes


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