Towards a Sociological Understanding of Football Hooliganism as a World Phenomenon

  • Eric Dunning


In this article a sociological diagnosis of football hooliganism as a world phenomenon is given. The author uses mainly English (newspaper) data about football violence (in and outside England) as an empirical base to explore how hooliganism can be theorised and understood. These data can usefully serve as a rough indication of the worldwide incidence of football hooliganism in the twentieth century. The author favours the figurational/process-sociological approach to football hooliganism which is historical and developmental. It also involves an exploration of the meanings of hooligan behaviour via an analysis of verbatim statements by the hooligans themselves, locates the football hooligans in the overall social structure, especially the class system, and examines the dynamics of the relationship between them and groups in the wider society. It is important, nevertheless, to stress that it is unlikely that the phenomenon of football hooliganism will be found always and everywhere to stem from identical social roots. As a basis for further, cross-national research, it is reasonable to hypothesise that the problem is fuelled and contoured by, among other things, what one might call the major 'fault-lines' of particular countries. Effective policies are urgently needed if the great social invention of football is to be protected from the serious threat posed by a combination of hooligan fans, complacent politicians and money-grabbing owners, managers and players.

comparative research hooliganism preventive policies sports riots sports violence 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric Dunning
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Research into Sport and SocietyUniversity College Dublin, University of LeicesterLeicesterUK

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