Football Hooligansim Literature Review

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Football Hooligansim Literature Review

Category : Articles

Literature Review

Football hooliganism has no set legal definition however the general supposition by many associates the term to actions of violence and disorder between rival supporters which occurs at an assortment of locations at diverse times. According to the majority of Criminologists the participants involve themselves in ritualised displays with patterned behaviour containing elements of message, moral approval and disapproval, encompassed in symbolic displays which are almost orderly to an almost absurd extent. (Perryman, 2005) A key question to analyse is whether researchers accomplished their measured definitions through their own ???justifiable??™ research or through the arguably ???untrustworthy??™ mass media contents.

Within any area of research it is highly significant that the historical literature of a topic is offered. Since the early 1980s, the leading contributors to the UK debate on football hooliganism from a sociological perspective has been the ???Leicester School.??™ One particular notion they have expressed interest upon is the roots of modern football hooliganism. Modern football hooliganism dates from the early 1960??™s, during which Britain entered a ???decivilizing spurt??™, as socio-economic weaknesses and inequalities hardened. Rival gangs of young supporters attacked each other more deliberately, consistently and instrumentally. ???Respectable??™ fans started to abandon the game to those ???rough??™ lower working classes. (Giulianotti, 1999) Additionally Elias??™s (1978) viewpoint is rooted in his own notion of social ???figurations??™. People are linked into networks of social interdependency; power relations are fluid in a permanent state of flux. (Elias, 1978) He believes a ???civilizing process??™ has been underway in Western societies, influenced by economic growth, division of labour, taxation, violence and social democratization. The Leicester researchers claim it is within the housing estates filled with the unincorporated, lower working classes, which represent the zones of socialization for the football hooligans. (Dunning et al, 1991)

Clearly their account is based on the theme of the generation and production of a particular form of aggressive masculinity, especially in lower class society. Moreover the perception that young males became socialised into standards that value and reward violent expressions of hooliganism. Due to changing civilization young men were creating spectator rivalries and defending their own ???gang??™ and their town??™s reputation again intruders. To create their argument on modern football hooliganism the Leicester researchers drew upon the fieldwork of John Williams with England fans and young men in Leicester housing scheme; a television documentary on West Ham United??™s hooligan formation, the Inter-City Firm and arrest figures at football matches uncovered by previous researchers. (Giulianotti, 1999)

The lower class ???aggressive masculinity??™ thesis has been criticised in England above all. Taylor (1987) argues that the class fraction identified by the Leicester research as the main production ground for hooliganism cannot account for the high-spending and fashionable ???casual??™ who is at the heart of English hooliganism. Recent violence by English fans abroad is the specific product of an upwardly mobile and ???detached??™ fraction of the ???Thatcherised??™ working class. (Taylor, 1987) This signals there is no real class affiliation or tradition instead an unregulated kind of British masculinity. Furthermore Armstrong (1998) believes the stress on social class is overdone in the Leicester work. Hooligan groups are very diverse in their make up- they can include fans drawn from across classes and anti-racists, hooliganism is best explained through anthropology and biography rather than sociology and structure. (Armstrong, 1998)

The sociological aspect has been criticized as it fails to provide genuine theory; it is a too generalised perception of society. The emphasis has been on constructing the ???civilizing process??™ to explain football violence historically. Lewis (1996) describes the Leicester thesis as ???historically inept, lurching from one generalization to the next in an attempt to sustain the viability of the ???civilizing process???.??™ (Lewis, 1996: 335)

There are key methodological weaknesses in the Leicester groups work. Hobbs and Robbins (1991) claim they were unwilling to engage with actual hooligans; most fieldwork was carried out with England fans and young lads in a deprived housing estate. (Hobbs and Robin 1991) This lack of worthwhile data cannot be used to construct a realistic explanation of hooliganism. Clearly a far more beneficial method would be to work with genuine football hooligans and work with a much larger sample size. The use of a male only sample is also a limitation when constructing a generalisation of a topic, there could be female hooligans within the nation that are not accounted for. An additional limitation is the use of the West Ham television documentary. Obviously a media source can present a false personification of hooliganism and is not practical enough to initiate a legitimate thesis. Their argument focuses on the lower working-class and consequently West Ham are the most famous working-class club around. (Korr 1986) Other hooligan groups should have been investigated to gain recognition for their argument. Furthermore it could be said their work is weak ethnographically. No aspects have been examined in relation to the dynamics within a football hooligan group, such as the interdependency of individual hooligans or the flexibility of power relations within the group generally.

To investigate hooliganism at Oxford United the researchers employed techniques such as ???participant observation??™ and qualitative interviewing with young fans. Marsh (1978) a psychologist explains ???aggro??™ (social aggravation) of rival fans is subject to specific ???rules of disorder??™ (Marsh, 1978) Social exchanges between rival fans were typically limited to exaggerated threats, ritualized insults and the denial of an opponent??™s masculinity. Deviant hooligans who were generally interested in harming opponents, for example by carrying knives or ammonia, would be considered ???out of order??™ by their peers, and labelled as ???nutters??™ to reflect their outrageous character. (Marsh et al, 1978)

They put forward the idea that hooliganism was personified by the sensitive response from powerful social groups. The media, police, magistrates, school teachers and politicians dehumanized these young fans. (Marsh, 1978) This aspect correlates a theme were organizations were labelling these individuals for their behaviour therefore amplifying the problem. When this was happening ???order is threatened??™ and the hooligan takes on their violent identity ascribed to him, and expects peer to likewise. (Marsh, 1978) To summarise it entails a cycle where the distance between hooligans and authorities becomes even more conflicting and difficult to control.

A strength that could be attributed to this work is their enhancement of the public??™s qualitative understanding of football hooliganism. Moreover their ???behaviour??™ acknowledgement has been supported in ways by other academics. Giulianotti claims ???sociologists have tended to underestimate psycho-social pleasures of football violence??™, or what participants themselves would describe as the ???buzz??™ of ???steaming in??™. Giulianotti highlights the sought-after sensation of an intense emotional state, associated with the voluntary high risk-taking involved in such a pursuit. (Giulianotti, 1999) In turn this reiterates Marsh??™s claims hooligans are generally interested in harming opponents. Additionally Finn (1994) agrees by seeing hooliganism as a search for a ???flow??™ or ???peak??™ experience; an intense emotion experience not encountered in everyday life. (Giulianotti et al, 1994) Evidently these researchers profoundly believe hooliganism is sufficiently linked to psychological behaviour in correlation with Marsh.

However there are elemental holes in their research. Firstly there is confusion with their explanation of ???aggro??™ behaviour. Marsh argues ???aggro??™ is caused by human psychological aggression which is deemed to be innate rather than socially learned, therefore common in all men, women and societies. The notion of aggression is defined as a helpful, indeed functional aspect of human behaviour which if tolerated and given social outlets (sports events) can benefit any society by enhancing social integration. (Giulianotti, 1999) This goes against Marsh??™s argument that football social events trigger aggressive behaviour between rivals in society, he fails to mention innate characteristics of individuals in relation to aggression. The researchers also underplayed the intricate social and hermeneutic aspects of ???aggro??™ among the young fans themselves, all that is presented is verbal symptoms among supporters.

Furthermore no cultural or historical factors are discussed within their research in relation to spectator rivalries. For example the relationship between Newcastle and Sunderland fans would be a lot more fierce and menacing than fans of Newcastle and Chelsea. Methodologically their research has some rather weak boundaries. The use of Oxford United supporters is rather sceptical and lacks ecological validity, due to the lack of relationship this club has to any notorious hooligan groups. Their sample use is extremely limited with the primary use of Oxford United fans. Too unearth more logical data a variety of clubs and hooligan groups could instead have been interviewed to provide more generalised evidence. Additionally the use of young male fans does not represent an accurate account of representation for the whole of society, why not use middle aged males and females The data presented by Marsh and colleagues is also quite ageing which suggests more modern data is required.

Evidently many researchers consider the British media, along with other forms of mass communication, to serve and have served, as the main definers for numerous topical subjects around the world, including football hooliganism; particularly since the phenomenon ???emerged??™ during the early 1960??™s. Dunning et al (1988) acknowledges this notion and claims that in the 1960??™s the label ???football hooliganism??™ became the standard media and official term for describing the events. (Dunning et al, 1988) Additionally Brimson (2000) agrees that it was ???them??™ (media) that began reporting on the issue, ???them??™ that defined the archetypal hooligan stereotype, ???them??™ that categorized the problem an ???English disease??™ and ???them??™ that have questionably perpetuated the problem through their handling of the subject. (Brimson, 2000) Consequently, these claims propose that media sources are in a situation of power when it comes to publishing news stories as they are in a unique vantage of directly influencing the thoughts of readers through both the material they write and how it is constructed.

Between the wars, football generally became more respectable and crowd problems diminished but did not disappear. It was not until the early 1960s, however, that the media coverage of football began once more regularly to report hooliganism at matches. Around this time, too, there was a general moral panic (Cohen, 1973) about the behaviour of young people, sparked by rising juvenile crime rates, uncertainty about the future, the emergence of a number of threatening national youth styles like that of the teddy boy, and racial tensions symbolised by the Notting Hill disturbances of 1958. In this climate, football became increasingly identified as a venue at which fights and other kinds of disorder regularly occurred. It was around this time, too, that football hooliganism in England began for the first time to take on the more cohesive and organised aspect that is associated with the phenomenon today.

Moorhouse (1991) considers that fan violence represents a moral panic, that is, is a sweeping opposition to a phenomenon that threatens social values and interests. Moral panics are characterized by rapid and intense emotional fervour towards an issue that the media and other social control agents call to public attention. (Moorhouse, 1991) The moral panic approach to hooliganism has its origins in the constructionist study of deviant human behaviour. The constructionist perspective departs from the positivist view that fixed, universal truths about fan violence await discovery. While the positivist perspective searches for causes of fan violence, the constructionist perspective examines labellers, the process of labelling, and the impact of labelling.

Cohen (1970) states ???Within Britain the tabloid press especially have found hooliganism to be an easy target for the kind of sensationalist style reporting that boasts their circulation. This sensationalists style of reporting often relies on powerful headlines grounded in violent imagery and war metaphors whilst articles are regularly ???edited for impact???. (Cohen, 1970) Cohen claimed that the media have ???long operated as agents of moral indignation in their own right??™, observing even if they are not self consciously engaged in crusading or mud-raking, their very reporting of certain ???facts??? can be sufficient to generate concern, anxiety, indignation or panic??™. (Cohen 1970, 125) Moral panics can arguably be applied to the reactions to films about football hooliganism. Moral panics have regularly been constructed upon the release of celluloid hooliganism, with critics and reviewers in the media attempting to persuade the public of an exigent threat to the ???moral order??? of society??™. (Poulton, 2006: 415) As we see with the media representation of ???real??™ hooliganism, we can see that ???virtual??™ hooliganism is treated in a similar way. Media explanations of hooliganism may serve useful functions for local and national institutions. Media stories normally deflect attention away from more pressing social issues, and deter speculations on the role that established and trusted groups may play in the creation and maintenance of fan violence. Subsequently this media power should engage responsibility and a function to report honestly about issues on which the public may not be fully knowledgeable. However, this idea appears to be vanished from time to time in the translation when it comes to the notion of football hooliganism as presented above.

A number of researchers have accused the media tabloids of helping to provoke hooliganism by promoting xenophobia. For example prior to England??™s clash with Germany in Euro 96 the Daily Mirror ran a headline of ???Achtung Surrender??™ whilst the Sun went with ???Lets Blitz Fritz??™. (www.liv.ac.uk Cited 14-01-2010) It is certainly true that newspapers generally report on football using the sort of language which seems to derive more from the world of war than it does from sport. (Hall, 1978) This most likely helps to enhance rivalries between opposing fan groups, as do the predictions newspapers occasionally used to make that trouble is likely to occur between rival fans. The moralising and personalised style of media reporting tends to create near-mythical hooligan figures in England who, initially at least, gained very high status in some hooligan and popular circles. Eventually, however, especially as CCTV surveillance and police intelligence became more and more important in helping to gain convictions against hooligans in the late 1980s, this sort of reporting was identified by fans themselves as being dangerous, both in terms of its identification of miscreants and also in its alleged distortions and prejudices. (Bairner, 2006)

Fundamental to the understanding of the media??™s role in our understanding of hooliganism is what Stuart Hall calls the ???amplification spiral??™ which implies the media feed a need for more stories that can lead to a widespread and a preventable ???moral panic??™ suggesting the problem is actually worse than in reality it is. This could be implemented to creating further altercation and draw yet more people into becoming involved. (Hall, 1978) Hall firmly believes that the tabloid press in the 1970??™s and 1980??™s amplified the problem and created a widespread panic which was completely disproportionate to the actual extent of the problem. Newspapers in England are usually running scare stories about hooligan fears in the host countries of tournaments and the likely reaction of the local police to misbehaviour. Such provocative and scaremongering coverage of football-related disorder can hen escalate the issue, and the expectant atmosphere, before a ball has been kicked let alone something actually ???kicks off??™. Likewise Whannel (1979) has also claimed that the frequent stereotyped characterization of hooligans has led to them being a popular ???folk devil??™ in society. The establishment of a new folk devil leads to the development of a moral panic. (Whannel, 1979) These sensitive comments are evidently still valid today, with those involved in hooliganism are still derided and demonized. Melnick (1986) agrees claiming that the mass media in general and the national press in particular take major responsibility for the public??™s view of a soccer hooligan. (Melnick, 1986) However in some countries the press have had a positive effect on hooliganism, as in Scotland and Denmark where heavy and favourable coverage of the ???Tartan Army??™ and the ???Rooligans??™ has deliberately set them apart from the hooligan perspective. (www.liv.ac.uk Cited 14-01-2010)

However within this timescale it was also claimed that the media had ???deamplified??™ the notion of football hooliganism due to the underreporting of events. In 1990 following the Taylor Report (1990) on the Hillsborough tragedy, the government was forced to shelve Part I of the Football Spectators Bill and this led to change of tactics on its part regarding the hooligan problem. Redhead (1991) explains during the 1990 World Cup Part I of the Football Spectators Bill was no longer a viable option so they (the media) started to play the problem down. (Redhead, 1991) This was the case even though there were no significant differences between the levels of hooliganism across Europe. In effect the media had created a more positive mood regarding the English game, and made the issue of football hooliganism less newsworthy. Murphy el al (1990) agrees with this perspective by stating football hooliganism started to be under-reported especially in the national press. (Murphy et al 1990) Nevertheless it was still reported but far less frequently, usually underlined and normally always just on the sport pages amongst some more general report.

The many portrayals of football hooliganism in the media elevate the question of the influence of such reporting. Many observations of the relationship between the media and football hooliganism have concluded the media entail poor empirical basis for their reporting. (Giulianotti et al, 1994) Van der Brug and Meijs (1988) made an attempt to investigate the significance of the media for the supporters themselves in Holland. The researchers aim was to find out the influences or effects media reports have on Dutch supporter??™s behaviour and reputation of their team. There were fifty-three respondents from different teams in Holland. They found there is a very strong influence from the media on the team??™s reputation variables. Additionally the scale ???media influence on reputation??™ showed a strong relationship with the scale ???football hooliganism??™. Seeking prestige from hooliganism was found to be acquired from ???deeds of heroism??™ that are represented from the media. (Giulianotti et al, 1994) Reporting about extra police at games via the media can attract supporters because this entails hooliganism is going to occur. Media reports on violent behaviour encourage a similar type of behaviour at matches. Van der Brug and Meijs (1988) conclude that it is evident the media have various negative effects on football hooliganism. (Giulianotti et al, 1994) Within their study questions asked related to all different sources of media i.e T.V, newspapers and radio rather than just focusing on one primary source. Clearly this is a beneficial factor to back up their research as it analyses all media input on hooliganism.

In turn this media analytical study can receive some profound criticism. Firstly it could be questioned whether the sample survey consists of a sufficient number of hooligans to carry out an adequate analysis. Moreover to gain a substantial recognition for their study they must have carried it out in many different international nations and not just focus on the Dutch game. If this method was carried out globally their results could be perceived a worldwide tendency and no just a Dutch trend on hooliganism. From a participant perspective no details or information were given regarding the background and lifestyles of the individuals which is a negative element as no comparative investigation can be undertaken.

Moving onto a differing media aspect Crawford (2004: 135) contends in recent years ???hooliganism??™ has become a genre in itself within popular culture. Numerous television programmes and videos have been produced that either seek to ???explain??™ hooliganism, provide insight into its ???murky??™ world, or purely offer voyeuristic entertainment to the viewing public. These products, along with books, films and digital games, all amount to what could be termed ???fantasy football hooliganism??™, in that they are attempts by various parts of the entertainment industry to either reproduce or to simulate football-related disorder for consumers. They serve to ???allow people to peer into and voyeuristically experience this ???deviant??? culture??™. (Crawford, 2004:151) Due to the growth and popularity of this genre there has been a modification of football hooliganism. In this association, Giulianotti and Armstrong (2002) observe a trend towards the ???privatisation??™ of hooliganism. This has involved extended specializations of the phenomenon, as hooliganism has been driven from the public locales of the stadia to hidden landscapes like service stations and industrial estates by the introduction of new legislation and police measures, such as CCTV and banning orders. (Giulianotti and Armstrong, 2002) But they note that while ???Engagement with virtual hooliganism (through books, videos and video games) advances this privatisation of fan violence. For many active hooligans, ???a violent exchange in surroundings devoid of an affective input represents a concept alien to the match-day experience??™. (Giulianotti and Armstrong, 2002: 233) This is implying that for many hooligans there is no substitute for the real thing, yet others might find replacement ???action??™ through fantasy hooliganism in virtual horizons.

Crabbe (2003) lends the term ???Hooliporn??™ from Allirajah (2002) to some up some media products in society. This typifies the ???supply??™ of the spectacle of football hooliganism. Hooliganism is regularly reproduced or stimulated in autobiographies by hooligans, videos and DVDs- often with live incidents which may be played, replayed an analytically dissected in full pornographic detail??™. (Giulianotti, 1999: 53) These products would clearly provide ???active hooligans??™ the chance to visualize the violence of themselves or others to the public. Despite the apparent popularity of these media functions they are often ridiculed for being economical with the truth and for including highly exaggerated scenes.

Armstrong (1998) has observed, ???Football hooliganism has always provoked the media into a feeding frenzy.??™ The press and television coverage of football related disorder has been comprehensively discussed elsewhere. Some of these studies have identified television documentaries ??“ which purport to ???explain how it is??™ and shed light on the issue in their analysis ??“ as rich sources of discourse on hooliganism (Armstrong, 1998: 310). However, these media texts have not necessarily been considered as forms of ???entertainment??™ within popular culture. Yet, as Giulianotti (1999) states, ???hooligan documentaries??™ are ???often found in the video-libraries of football hooligans, and reviewed at regular intervals??™. (Giulianotti, 1999) There is an evident trend for documentaries to be broadcast in advance of major international competitions. This is part of the wider media agenda-setting technique of predicting football-related disorder. (Poulton, 2003)

To generalise these perceptions mediated football hooliganism will clearly sensationalize the vision of violence to entice audiences. The main criticism surrounding this aspect comes from accusations that these programmes glorify football related disorder, so running an alleged risk of inspiring into real life. (Kelso, 2004) Arguably the most unrealistic rhetoric was found in the accusations levied at The Football Factory and Green Street, claiming they glamorize violence to the point that they could precipitate copycat hooliganism. It appears that the ???virtual??™ hooligan is framed by the media as a threatening ???folk devil??™, just like his ???real-life??™ counterpart. (Poulton, 2006)
To finalise there are clear gaps in previous media related literature that needs to be investigated to formulate accurate generalisations on the topic. Within all the media sources that present coverage on football hooliganism very rarely have statistics been offered along with their reporting. This offers the justification to analyse current statistics which then can be compared to the efficiency and accuracy of the media treatment on football hooliganism. Moreover from an academic perspective there has been no research obtainable relating to the public??™s views on media coverage on football hooliganism. This aspect also entails justification for this research in terms of the questionnaires that are going to be analysed to represent the public??™s opinions.