Nikki Baker


I would like to take this opportunity to thank a number of people who, without their assistance and support, this project would never have been possible.

Firstly I would like to say a big thank you to my mum and dad for believing in me and standing by me throughout my time at university.  You have given me so much, and for all of it I am grateful.

Thank you to my sister, Dizz, for assisting to the best of her ability, even if it wasn’t always to the best of her knowledge, with many hours spent pushing up her bill for the Internet without her permission.  Thanks also to her boyfriend James, and his strange but reliable vehicle Dougal, for transporting me on one of the most valuable experiences of this project.

Thanks a lot also to my God Father Chris Easton for providing me with the opportunity to follow a hunt, and a lot of information surrounding the topic.  Thanks also to Marilyn for letting me steal Chris on numerous occasions in order to gather further vital information.

Thanks to the girls, especially those I have lived with for the last 3 years for all their support and stupidity.  We all have memories but the best ones have all included you guys.  Lisa Marge, Webecca, Gwandma, and there’s only one Siany Siany! You’re all amazing, and we all know it.  Thanks to my true friend Rachel, better known as Leggz, for providing me with the only form of social relief when at home in Bristol, you are still the only other one who knows how to party, and together we have the best times.

A massive thanks to Elliott ‘Swanie Boy Malinga’ Swanton, everything you have ever done for me has not only helped in making a better dissertation, but also improved me as a person.  You are a real friend and I hope that never ends.

I would also like to thank the hunt followers that participated in the research fort his project, little do they know it, but without them none of this would have been possible.

Last but not least, thanks also to my tutor Dave, whose help, enthusiasm and support has been constant over the last 3 years, particularly in my final year, and with this specific piece of work.


This project was conducted to provide an insight into the attractions and motivations behind fox hunting and its’ followers.  Numerous texts refer to this sport, providing many reasons for the changes in the participation levels of the sport, however there is a lack of information explaining what drives a person to become involved in this sport.  This dissertation consists of the history of fox hunting in England, explores the issues that have surrounded previous changes in its existence, and contemplates what possible changes are still likely to occur in the future.  It also exposes those thoughts put forward by the current Government.

The primary research for this dissertation was made in the forms of questionnaires and participant observation.  The respondents for the questionnaire were hunters from a particular hunt group in Gloucestershire, and the observation also followed this group.

The findings to this research have been illustrated in various ways.  The closed questions have been represented graphically, and the open-ended questions have been represented in a categorised manner.  The observations made have been represented in descriptive form, to either support or contest the findings from the questionnaires.

The results obtained have helped to comprehend many of the attractions to hunting and the reasons for participating. However they have failed to identify one particular reason, and it is unlikely that one will ever be discovered, partly because it is very much an esoteric activity, and also due to Government legislation.

Chapter One – Introduction

This paper aims to explore the controversial sport of fox hunting within society, looking back at its history and assessing how it has changed and how the views of society have changed with it. It is a long-standing tradition and although now it is conflict-ridden, it remains a popular leisure activity. Fox hunting has played a large role in the social development of this country but many people now see it as barbaric. Throughout history many blood sports have become illegal but a ban against fox hunting has not yet been implemented (in England).  The fact that many people do not consider fox hunting to be a sport anymore, and also believe it to be cruel has advanced to such an extent that calls for a ban are frequent and often aggressive.  This however does not deter those that hunt from continuing, and it could be an influential factor that encourages followers to pursue hunting more regularly.

Previously, a lot of work has been conducted on the topic of fox hunting, and as a result a lot of literature has been produced.  Each piece raises various viewpoints surrounding the issues involved in this controversial sport.  The early work highlights many views that at first had not been apparent to the researcher originally when approaching the investigation, whereas many of the recent publications concentrate on the debate surrounding a possible ban on the activity. From combining the early work with some of the more current pieces many reasons can be found as to why people hunt and will continue to hunt.  Also, when studying some of the research already completed by the likes of Norbert Elias and Eric Dunning, a common approach was discovered.  A figurational sociological approach is frequently referred to, and subsequently it will have a large impact on this chapter.  Although it is not a very recent theory, it is a theory that could still be considered today, and could help to explain why people hunt.  Another interesting and relevant publication that has emphasized the reasons why people continue to hunt in today’s modern society is The Burns Inquiry into fox hunting in England and Wales.  It points out the effects that a possible ban could have from various angles, including economic, social and conservation perspectives.  This helps to comprehend why people are still becoming involved in this sport today.