Friday, October 23, 2009

The peloton and strategic intervention.

From the Theoretical Notes from the Ponds Series

The kind of investigation we have in mind is impossible without the cooperation of the peloton. In fact given that it appears incontestable that the peloton is the most isolated or excluded of all ‘stakeholders’ in the policy process to undertake research without their cooperation appears to be futile.

On one hand, what we are trying to undertake is akin to the traditional "factory” or ‘workplace” investigation". As such we are seeking to inquire into the conditions and relations of the workers of professional cycling. In undertaking our research we seek to maintain a certain academic or sociological detachment from the position of the peloton whilst also seeking to remain independent of the sport’s administrators, sponsors and media. Nevertheless we still wish to canvass the perceptions of these groups.

On the other hand if our assumption that the peloton is isolated from the policy process is correct – and our work to date has done nothing to dissuade us of this position; what we are also interested in doing as part of our research via way of workshops and formal and informal feedback loops is to carry out a kind of co-operative or interactive production of knowledge – a sort of cycling "teach-in" whereby we can take issues raised with us, undertake background research and report back to the peloton in order to produce knowledge and to allow those affected by policy to consider their policy options and to engage if it be their desire - a form of policy brokerage.

Thirdly, and possibly in the end most productive of change, we seek to engage the peloton in the process of producing “ethical bodies” which are able to deactivate the mechanisms of surveillance and control that they feel that they are subjected to. That is if we can engage the cyclists in the production of a community of ethical riders what might be regarded as the excess of anti doping policy would no longer be necessary.

The notion of strategic investigation in this way allows to conceive of the collective production of the knowledge of the peloton with the view of an intervention which can only assist in the production of a sustainable and sensible approach to anti doping policy.

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