Dunning E et al. (1986) ‘Spectator Violence at Football Matches:
towards a sociological explanation’ in British Journal of Sociology,
37, 2: 221—44.
The ‘fighting crews’ or ‘superhooligans’ are especially likely to have right-wing connections. These people avoid the dress stereotypes and ‘hooligan uniforms’ in favour of current youth fashions.
Hooliganism is predominantly linked to lower working class males, as the official statistics show [However, these refer to those arrested or charged – see p.229 – and so are not very reliable. Dunning has already hinted at why this is so – the police tend to arrest and charge the stereotyped hooligans who may not be at all typical of the fighting crews].
Dunning goes on to explore the work of an anthropologist called Suttles, especially via the concept of ‘ordered segmentation’ [which looks like a ‘figuration’ – or is certainly compatible with it as we shall see]. Suttles’ work is about how different communities in Chicago, divided usually by age, gender, ethnicity or territoriality, can come together to form larger alliances (street corner gangs) and systems, especially when threatened by rivals. These ad hoc alliances arise as outcomes of certain generative rules, such as the old idea that an enemy’s enemy becomes my friend etc [spot the similarities with the idea of figurations emerging, in, say, Elias on court politics]. Conflicts between these segments are deferred in favour of wider conflicts with other larger groupings outside. [Suttles seems to combine this with a classic ‘social disorganisation’ approach to deviance – working class male youths are sent into the streets to play ‘unsupervised by adults’]
We have a clear link
says Dunning, with the behaviour of some football hooligan groups (and
fans), who will fight among themselves but then form larger alliances –
Northern fans against combined London fans, or English fans abroad.
The rough groups are denied any respect in straight society and develop ‘authoritarian personalities’, which draws them to right-wing politics [again some really old work in urban sociology is cited here, while Adorno’s work on the authoritarian personality is never really expanded – into the political dimensions, for example, which lead to a superb and devastating attack on capitalism]. Such individuals both seek out violence and respond aggressively ‘because they have not learned to exercise the degree of self-control that is demanded in this regard by the dominant norms of British society’ ( p.234) [functionalism here? a circular argument too].
Historically, the story goes back long before the 1960s. Most frustration might be expected among working class communities, but there were also occasional ‘moral panics’ among the ‘more established groups’ (235). Various ‘fashions’ led to different venues for violence – dance halls, for example.
Football violence specifically fluctuates according to ‘the degree to which the working class is incorporated into the mainstream of British social life and hence are constrained to adopt, in Elias’s sense of the term, the more “civilised” values and modes…of the more established social classes’ (235). The amount of football violence follows a curvilinear path [Dunning uses FA records and press reports for data here, although we know that differential levels of attention might also be involved in producing these records and reports]. Thus its incidence was high before World War 1, then it fell inter-war, became very low during World War 2 and afterwards, up till the 50s, then rose sharply from the mid-60s. In Elias’s terms British society before 1914 was less civilised, then the working class was incorporated into the mainstream during the War and by other trends including Trades Unionism, equality of opportunity, affluence and the emergence of child-care. However, the ‘roughs’ remained outside of these trends, and were further marginalised by the Recession. Violence became focused on football again due to media coverage, and a more general panic surfaced in 1966 especially concerned with our prestige internationally [compare with the current anxieties about whether we could stage the 2006 World Cup with our hooligan record].
A vicious circle then set in, with coverage of football violence making football an attractive site for those seeking violence. Once informed of the potential, hooligans like football grounds especially – they are ideal sites with their anonymous crowds and masculine rituals.
My other problem concerns
of the approach. This is an asymmetric analysis, looking back on the
of hooliganism and trying to explain it ‘backwards’, so to speak –
declines during wars, and wars integrate people into society, so one
cause the other. I would want to argue about both of those ‘facts’, let
alone the causals implied! It all makes sense backwards, but it is hard
to accept unless there are other measures of ‘civilisation’ used as
– the rough working class groups are less civilised, Dunning tells us,
and we know this from their involvement in hooliganism. But this
matter is also an explanation – they commit hooligan acts because they
are uncivilised. But how do we know they are uncivilised? Because they
are hooligans! Round and round we go. Rough proles just must be
for Dunning, I suspect, and he cites a lot of old studies which slagged
off their childrearing, their homes, their morals and so on: we know
old studies to have been very value-laden and circular themselves.