Hooligans, Casuals, Independents : decivilisation or Rationalisation of the Activity ? Article - 2014

Dominique Bodin, Luc Robène

International Journal of the History of Sport, 2014, pp. 2013-2033. ISSN 0952-3367


If there is one phenomenon which highlights the lack of role distance of certain sport actors, it is obviously hooliganism. In the mid-1980s, Norbert Elias and Eric Dunning became interested in the role played by modern sports in the ‘civilising process’ and, analysing the violence of sport crowds, introduced a culturalist interpretation of the actions. They were considered to be the work of members of the ‘rough working class’, who were less advanced in the ‘civilising process’ and had still not achieved sufficient self-control. In these groups, characterised by social functioning in the form of a segmentary bond, violence was thought to be a traditional way of resolving conflicts, a significant aspect and essential part of their ethos. This is an over-determined interpretation of the violence of sports crowds which naturalises and socialises this violence. This vision poses a problem, that of the negation of any logic on the part of the actors involved. This viewpoint leads us to consider violence as a social product and a ‘practical accomplishment’, the result of the way in which supporters interpret and live in the world that surrounds them, and, as such, it is the individual and collective motives and purposes that should be investigated.

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