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Avenues of contestation. Football hooligans running and ruling urban spaces

  • Richard Giulianotti (a1) and Gary Armstrong (a2)

Drawing upon extensive urban anthropological fieldwork with football hooligan formations in England and Scotland, it is argued that academics have failed to examine adequately the spatial dimension underlying hooligan conflicts. The spatially affective aspects of football fandom in general are identified; via Fiske's dichotomy of locales and stations, the contestation of space inside football grounds between fans, police and club directors is highlighted. From this milieu emerge the football hooligan gatherings, which are conceived as ‘resource networks’ utilising time, identity and information (Wallman), rather than as produced by processes or ‘ordered segmentation’ (Dunning). Subsequently, the paper turns to explore the historical trajectory of football hooliganism qua spatial contest between rival fans and police. The intensification of police control strategies has helped to engender a broadening of social spaces; contexts and techniques by which hooligans may ‘legitimately’ pursue confrontations. The process is complicated further in important ‘two team’ cities, wherein many popular social spaces retain an ambiguous status for local rivals acting in ostensibly non-football contexts. The concluding discussion critically assesses the effects and cultural meanings of increased police surveillance over football fans, noting the response of some hooligans in seeking to ‘arrange’ confrontations with rivals at extremely peripheral, non-football locations.

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We thank Eduardo Archetti, Gerry Finn, Jock Young and two anonymous referees for their comments on a previous version of this paper. Professor Archetti's observation that our reading of young fan confrontations was highly applicable to Argentina was particularly encouraging. Thanks also to David Andrews and Robert Pitter of the University of Memphis for putting the earlier version on the web.
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Social Anthropology
  • ISSN: 0964-0282
  • EISSN: 1469-8676
  • URL: /core/journals/social-anthropology
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