Football Hooligans: Knowing the Score

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Bloomsbury Academic, 1998 - Social Science - 361 pages
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This book examines how groups of young male fans come to be defined and identified as football `hooligans’ and challenges the assumption that violence is wholly central to the match-day experience for these supporters. Rather, the creation of identity is at the root of hooliganism, with all the cultural values and rituals, codes of honour and shame, and communal patterns of behaviour and consumption that accompany it. The author locates hooliganism historically within the milieu of an industrial working class culture and examines ideas of performance and ritual encompassed in idealized masculinity.

The book is based on a decade’s in-depth study of the `Blades’, a group of football fans supporting Sheffield United, who are notorious for their hooliganism. It contributes to the debate on football hooliganism by challenging many traditionally-held notions of hooliganism and by providing the first anthropological study of football violence.

The book also debunks the myth that violence between football fans is organized by `generals’ operating within hierarchically structured groups. Falsehoods such as this, it is argued, are advanced to augment the powers of the police and media in redefining and controlling particular groups of individuals whose behaviour does not fit easily within increasingly constrictive codes of social conduct.

This book represents essential reading not only for undergraduates of social anthropology, sociology and criminology but also for the general reader with an interest in football culture.

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About the author (1998)

Gary Armstrong is a Lecturer, i n the Department of Sport Science, at Brunel University.

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