Violent pasts: collective memory and football hooliganism

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Abstract

Since the 1970s, the sociological analysis of football hooliganism has focused on the processes which lead to violence between fans. This has been a reasonable research strategy since the incidence of violence is a striking phenomenon and violent fans themselves look upon violence as the objective. However, this focus on the causes of violence has cast other important aspects of football violence into the shade. In particular, there has been a lack of consideration of the way in which violence has been used as a resource by violent fans for the creation and re-creation of their hooligan gangs. In particular, there has been no discussion of the way in which the collective memory of violence, established in discussions between group members, affirms the solidarity of these groups. In exploring the way that shared memory is employed by violent fans to sustain their relations with each other, this article widens the focus of the sociological study of hooliganism but also makes a contribution to the understanding of how social groups are constituted more generally through the empirical example of hooliganism.

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