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football hooliganismthe violent crowd disorder, and associated football-related disturbances away from football grounds, which first attracted major public and media attention in the 1960s. After initial attempts to explain football violence in terms of the psychological characteristics of the ‘hooligans’ (Harrington, 1968), more recently a variety of sociological explanations have been suggested:
- opposition to the commercialization of football and the growing distance between players and the owners of clubs on the one hand, and ordinary working-class supporters on the other (Taylor, 1971);
- rather than ‘true’ violence, behaviour which appears disordered and threatening in fact often has its own ‘rules of disorder’: is ritualized (Marsh et al., 1978);
- deriving from LABELLING THEORY and DEVIANCE AMPLIFICATION (see Cohen, 1973), ‘hooliganism’ is seen as a media-amplified MORAL PANIC;
- since football violence has a long history increased modern attention to it is a reflection of a ‘civilizing’ tendency in society which has resulted in a lower societal tolerance of violence of the kind long associated with working-class conceptions of masculinity but now socially unacceptable (Dunning et al., 1988) (see also CIVILIZING PROCESS.
Arguably, each of these explanations has some justification.