Hooliganism, Article Review Example
Words: 2534Article Review
Hooliganism in a Social Context: Article One
In the article Towards a Sociological Understanding of Football Hooliganism as a World Phenomenon (2000) by Eric Dunning, it is clear to see the way in which he is attempting to relate hooliganism in a social context. He doesn’t focus on the United States, but on other countries such as Europe and South and Central America and how they are equipped as hooligans both on the field and off the field. He isn’t specifically speaking of the players, either. Throughout the article, he explains the ways in which the fans develop attitudes and appearances of hooligans. Dunning (2000) first defines hooliganism as crowd and fan disorderliness. Yet, Dunning (2000) goes on to explain it a little more in detail in the following paragraph:
‘Football hooliganism’ in a ‘cover-all’ sense which includes inter alia: forms of verbal as well as physical violence; the throwing of missiles at players; match and club officials and other fans; the vandalizing of club and private property; fist fights, fights involving kicking, and fights involving weapons such as knives and even guns (142).
This article shows just how much the media is involved in the things that we do on a daily basis and how influential that media can be. According to Dunning (2000), between the 1960’s to the 1980’s, the press became more interested in football hooliganism and considered it more newsworthy than it usually was, all of this being based on the culture and interest in violence in particular (p. 144).
Throughout the article, Dunning gives specific social examples of the reasoning behind hooliganism. Dunning (2000) states that “football hooliganism is ‘caused’ by: excessive alcohol consumption; violent incidents on the field of play or biased and incompetent refereeing; unemployment; affluence; and ‘permissiveness’” (p. 151). These are all sociological factors that influence the pervasiveness of hooliganism on and off the field according to many of the countries that were studied. All in all, it’s a social problem that needs to be dealt with. At least, that is how many make it out to be. Hooliganism (particularly football hooliganism) is caused by conflict between individuals within different social classes. Some are middle class, some are high class, and others are completely unemployed. However, the conflict isn’t just with each other as fans or as players; it is also conflict between these individuals and the police and other authoritative figures. In a social context, these individuals feel there is a hierarchy that must be obtained and in which should stay in place at all times.
This article attempts to explain that hooliganism is not just a bunch of individuals getting angry at players, fans or other officials, but that it is a social problem that needs attention. It helps us understand just how involved media is when it comes to the “views” of horrible things happening in our society. The media is always ready to jump on a story such as this rather than a story that brings about character and pride. All of it is sociological and that is what Dunning is attempting to explain in this article. Each country had different percentages in the amount of hooliganism; however, that didn’t mean that each country didn’t have the same ideas in mind. It also doesn’t mean that one country had less hooligans; it just means that the social values were different and they may not have shown it as much.
Hooliganism in a Masculine Context: Article Two
The article entitled Men Like Us, Boys Like Them: Violence, Masculinity, and Collective Identity in Football Hooliganism by Ramon Spaaij sets a clear picture of the definition of hooliganism and how it is appropriate to the male species. The depiction of hooliganism that Spaaij makes is consistent with the definition of a gang and its members. The key features of football hooligan identities parallel that of gangs. Spaaij (2008) states the following in reference to these six key features:
Six features seem universal to football hooligan identities: excitement and pleasurable emotional arousal, hard masculinity, territorial identifications, individual and collective management of reputation, a sense of solidarity and belonging, and representations of sovereignty and autonomy (375).
These key features represent much of the same features of a gang and how they interact with each other and what they expect. Spaaij (2008) puts football hooliganism into perspective by explaining that some of the most important aspects of it relate to violence and intimidation. He states “for football hooligans, violence and the willingness to ‘be game’ constitute the compelling form of social intercourse out of which their social group arises” (Spaaij, 2008, p. 373). The excitement and pleasure of violence as they confront their opponents is something that these football hooligans crave. “Fighting is one of their main acts to counter boredom and experience high emotional arousal” (Spaaij, 2008, p. 376). However, violence and intimidation are not the only important aspects of a football hooligan’s life. Much like gangs, football hooligans value honor and respect. Yet, the one way in which to achieve this in these groups is through responding to specific challenges the group has set out for you. This is where masculinity comes in. Just like girls, there is a certain expectation for boys as they are growing up. They are expected to develop a certain amount of masculinity that becomes a central aspect to their manhood. This is forced on them at a very young age and they believe that is how they are supposed to be. This sense of masculinity is prominent and expected in football hooligan families as it makes them look tough and shows the group that they are capable of completing certain tasks related to their mission. According to Spaaij (2008), “hooligans’ hard masculine identities are not only socially constructed and context dependent but also inextricably related to the body as a meaningful construction itself” (p. 380).
Finally, much like gangs, hooligan groups also provide its members with a sense of belonging and friendship. Many gang members join gangs in order to feel like they belong somewhere and have a purpose. This does not change for groups such as these that we have been discussing. Many of these individuals need that sense of belonging in their lives and they join these groups in order to obtain it. These groups give each one of its members a place to go, people to talk to, people to spend time with, and a sense of togetherness that they may not be able to find anywhere else.
We must not confuse these groups with gangs as they certainly are not. However, they do have much of the same characteristics and values. When reading the article, it is easy to compare the football hooligans with gangs as much of what they stand for are the same. Yet, even though they are so similar, they are not the same and this has to be emphasized.
Hooliganism and Violent Pasts: Article Three
The article entitled Violent Pasts: Collective Memory and Football Hooliganism by Anthony King explains the definition of hooligans in a little more detail while attempting to show us how violence and memory play a key role in a hooligan lifestyle. This article focuses on how the memory makes a hooligan react the way that he does and explains the reasoning behind the memory and the person’s ability to result to violence within his specific group. King (2001) believes that hooligans take it upon themselves to actually plan fights. King (2001) also explains that most hooligans make fighting their prime objective, but “for hooligans, violence constitutes the compelling form of social intercourse out of which their social group arise. Yet, fights do not automatically promote group unity” (p. 571-572). Hooligan groups, just as any other groups, are distinguished by certain things such as skin color, gender, and lifestyle. This is important to state because it means that each group distinguishes its members based on specific factors that make them all equal in the group. However, they aren’t always equal in the eyes of each other. One must develop and prove a certain masculinity in order to receive the specific type of honor that these men are looking for. One of the main key elements of masculine honor is pride and the ability to fight. “For hooligans, masculine honor refers to their willingness to engage in violence against other hooligans” (King, 2001, p. 573). Yet, in order to receive honor and win a fight, one must be willing to fight another fan of his own stature.
This article by King helps us determine some of these main factors already spoken of in this paper, but also brings up other good points in relation to hooliganism. King (2001) speaks mostly of collective memory and how this affects the way in which a group of hooligans see themselves and their groups. If each person within the group does not have the same collective memory of an incident that has already happened, they have the tendency to not think along the lines of a group. Each will begin to develop his own understanding of what the group stands for and this does not keep them unified. Each group member tells the story of the incident as they know it and this keeps them unified. According to King (2001), “group alliance is sustained by the collective memories of violence, therefore, rather than automatically by the violence itself and, consequently, analysis should focus on the sociological significance of these collective memories” (p. 570). King (2001) states that if each of these individuals do not recognize “the communal significance of interaction,” that they would eventually begin to pursue interests of their own that will lead them away from the group (p. 571). By doing this, they would have no interest in the collective memory or the unity that the group needs in order to stay intact. It is of utmost importance for each of the group members to have the same collective memory so that they can stay bonded together as a group. It not only helps them individually, but also helps them as a whole.
As stated above, this article touches a little more on collective memory and how it helps each individual person become and stay part of their group. It gives a more specific definition of the meaning of collective memory, the meaning of hooliganism, and the meaning of masculinity. According to King (2001), “collective memories become sacred and compelling for the individual because they are intimately associated with the social relations between the individuals in the group” (p. 582). This is what makes it all worthwhile for them! The more that these individuals talk about these memories, the more they are going to understand each other and the specific actions that must be taken in order to maintain the group outlook.
A Comparison and Contrast: Hooliganism
The three articles previously discussed are all good articles as they attempt to explain the interesting phenomenon of football hooliganism that began so many years ago. They each have their own specific points and give a clear, concise understanding of the topic. The article by Dunning entitled Towards a Sociological Understanding of Football Hooliganism as a World Phenomenon is much more intense and a little more difficult to understand. However, it is one of the better articles because it hits on so many different aspects of the topic. This article focuses on how the media portrays hooliganism and how this is one of the most influential ways to portray it – through the media. In this article, Dunning gives specific examples of the reasoning behind hooliganism where the other articles do not go into much detail on that. Most importantly, this article focuses on the fact that hooliganism is a social problem that needs attention in order to provide an understanding of it and to eliminate it. The article by Ramon Spaaij entitled Men Like Us, Boys Like Them: Violence, Masculinity, and Collective Identity in Football Hooliganism focuses more on the ideal of hooliganism and how it is appropriate in the male context of masculinity. This specific article sends the message that hooliganism is much like gangs in general. Spaaij (2008) determines six features of football hooligan identities that are much like the aura of gangs such as a sense of belonging, hard masculinity, and territorial identifications just to name some of them. This article explains the idea of hard masculinity in a sense that the other articles really don’t. Just like females are expected to hold a certain standard of femininity, males are expected to hold up a certain standard of masculinity at a very young age. This article takes the time to go into this in more detail than the other two articles discussed and gives the reader a clear idea of how important that masculinity is in terms of hooliganism. The article entitled Violent Pasts: Collective Memory and Football Hooliganism by Anthony King (2001) also gives the reader an idea of how important collective memory is for groups of hooligans. This article explains the concept in more detail than the other two articles and helps the reader understand just how important collective memory is when speaking of groups such as these. King (2001) gives a clear idea of how groups see themselves and each other as a specific unit by the use of collective memory. Collective memory (all of them having the same image of past fights, their purpose and so forth) helps them maintain their unity. King (2001) explains that without this collective memory and without discussing it, each person would begin to see things differently and would act on those things as separate units rather than a group. This article also speaks of masculinity in the same sense that Spaaij’s article does. King and Spaaij agree that there is a certain type of masculine honor built into a hooligan’s lifestyle. Without that masculine profile and the masculine ability to fight, the group would cease to exist as this is something that the groups feel makes them honorable to the group.
Each of the articles has its own points on hooliganism and each one makes very good points. They are all attempting to define hooliganism. Yet, they do it in their own ways and attempt to help the reader understand the importance of masculinity, unity, respect, honor, and collective memory when thinking of hooliganism. Though they do not all talk about the same things and do not define them all in the same ways, each article sheds light on how hooliganism has changed from year to year and how it will continue to change based on the ideals of each group. Each article also gives the reader the idea that hooliganism is a social problem rather than any other type of problem and that it needs to be addressed and further researched in order to completely understand the sociological aspects of the topic.
Dunning, E. (2000). Towards a sociological understanding of football hooliganism as a world phenomenon. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, 8, 141-162.
King, A. (2001). Violent pasts: Collective memory and football hooliganism. The Editorial Board of the Sociological Review, 568-585.
Spaaij, R. (2008). Men like us, boys like them: Violence, masculinity, and collective identity in football hooliganism. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 32, 369-392. doi: 10.1177/0193723508324082
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