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Soccer And Nationalism Essay

2255 words - 10 pages

SynopsisNationalism in the World Cup has become a causal mechanism for violence in soccer. It is where groups of individuals, in particular soccer hooligans, can prove their nation is the best but more importantly, their nation is 'tougher' than the rest.There are four chief features that describe soccer hooliganism: individuals search for pleasure and excitement, hard masculinity, self-identification by neighborhood, and a sense of unity and brotherhood (Dunning, Murphy & Williams, 1988). Thus, in order to understand this social phenomenon, we must get past the simplified view society has used to stereotype soccer hooligans. We need to understand why and how soccer, specifically during ...view middle of the document...

For young males in the lower-working class, football hooliganism provides individuals a fraternity or brotherhood in search of excitement, and a venue to vent it (Spaaij, 2008, p.11). These experiences can be shared as collective memory thus forming friendships or rivalries depending on which team is being feted (Spaaij, 2008, p.11).Furthermore, members of the lower-working class are emotionally attached to their local territory and are identified by that territory. They tend to perceive their local neighborhood as their own property and build their strongest ties with individuals in same locality and same habitus (Dunning et al., 1988, p.207). Thus, the World Cup becomes a way to prove ones affiliation to a nation through being able to defend and support ones team as though it were their own 'territory' (Taylor, 2009). Moreover, nationalism, the concept of embracing your home country and wanting to beat other nations, is best depicted through the World Cup, soccer being the foremost sport in shaping a singular, national identity (Taylor, 2009, p.25).In addition, soccer is used as a setting to fight between groups, because it too, is about masculinity, territory and excitement (Dunning, Murphy, Waddington & Astrinakis, 2002, p.16). These fans were only identified as 'manly' when they proved their willingness to fight, and be recognized as real men (Dunning et al., 2002, p.16). The interactions between hooligans are rooted in the attempt to prevent the invasion of their home turf (called "youth ends") in the football stadium by visiting hooligans (Spaaij, 2008, p.15). Such "alien" invasions are regarded as a threat to territorial integrity that has to be replied with force, to show which nation is the tougher.An interactionist approach gives us great insight into how football hooligans give meaning to their experiences, form identities, and interact with each other. However, it does not explain how social structures and agency influence their identity, interactions and values.Analyzing the world cup with a structural functionalist approach, one can see football hooligans represent a collapse in institutionalized norms and order, thus disrupting the social equilibrium. Football hooliganism in the past has been a local phenomenon, but over the years, it has globalized and gained an international dimension (Dunning et al., 1988, p.16). The 'rough working class tradition' and 'violent masculine style' are the main structural features of the working class soccer hooligan groups (Kerr, 1994, p.8). Individuals growing up in the working class are situated in very minimal power chances and agency in their lives. They have grown up with high levels of violence compared to others higher up in the social strata; consequently, they face the disapproval of the upper classes, who tend to be intolerant of unruly conduct (Kerr, 1994, p.228).Furthermore, soccer becomes a means to escape the boredom in an individual's life and a factor of equilibrium in our...

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