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"Becoming a football hooligan: Applying the Differential Association Theory in a new way" (by Petter Ingemarsson): Review 5

Published onApr 03, 2024
"Becoming a football hooligan: Applying the Differential Association Theory in a new way" (by Petter Ingemarsson): Review 5

Vote: Do not Publish

In the current study under review, the author takes a unique approach, exploring why individuals join football firms from a differential association perspective. This is done through qualitative accounts from subjects (N = 8) who have joined such firms. While the study offers a fresh perspective on a distinct form of criminal behavior, it requires further methodological development for publication. I found the manuscript engaging and have provided detailed feedback below, which I believe will be beneficial for consideration.

Intro—The introduction of the manuscript is crucial and sets the stage for the entire study. It provides an overview of the issue under examination (football firms) and the broader context of the culture of sports in Sweden, followed by a discussion of correlates of football hooliganism. While the introduction is well-written, I believe it could benefit from some minor organizational changes to enhance its impact.

  1. It may be helpful to provide more context to hooliganism. Football firms are explained, but hooliganism is not.

  2. The first section of page 3 introduces positive supporter culture. However, the second paragraph discusses the history of football firms and their development in Sweden. This may be better situated in the previous section when providing a scope of football firms and how they became an important topic of discussion.

  3. The section on pro-criminal correlates of football hooliganism may benefit from being organized based on the correlates discussed. For example, introduce the factors examined in prior research, then devote a section to each and their findings.


  4. No information is provided on the study protocol. Did any institutional board approve this study? Was informed consent provided and signed by each participant? Did the research team consist solely of the author, or were others involved in recruitment?

  5. On page 6, paragraph one, “Contact was established with people who were mostly acquaintances of my acquaintances”

    The term ‘mostly’ implies that some were not acquaintances. If so, then how were they recruited? Additionally, this is a significant limitation that should be addressed in the discussion, as all participants have some relation to the researcher.

  6. How were participants recruited for interviews? Where did the researchers go to recruit? Did this occur at one site (perhaps a stadium) or many sites? On page 6, in paragraph one, it states, “After constantly seeking interviewers over a period of one month...” This vague statement does not reveal how, where, or how the researchers obtained participants.

  7. On page 7, under ‘Participants,’ it states that participants came from various socioeconomic backgrounds and demographics, that they had ‘secure childhoods,’ and that criminal engagement, contact with social services, convictions, and socioeconomic status differed. How were these items measured? No descriptive table of the sample is presented, and no operationalization of these characteristics exists. Additionally, it does not indicate if these were self-reported answers provided by the participants or if this information was attained through other means (i.e., participant approval to official records).

  8. What qualitative design guided data collection? There is no mention of what initial questions or interview design was used. If this is the case, were they all different? It is not clear how a differential association perspective guided questions or interviews.

Results and Analysis

  1. How were qualitative interviews analyzed? What software and method were used to extract the provided quotes in the results section?

  2. The results section is a bit unclear about the connection between the tenets of DA theory and the emerging themes, specifically what themes emerged (no indication was made of any type of content analysis).

For example, on page 7, the last two paragraphs discuss the communication and attitude thesis. Then, at the top of page 8, it states, “Friends or acquaintances impacting introduction to a firm is a theme that emerges in several stories.” I think a lack of organization may contribute to the lack of connection here. Also, did this theme emerge more than once? If so, other examples should be given.

On page 7, the second paragraph of the results and analysis states, “Interest in sports and team affiliation are particularly significant factors for participants in the present study. None of the interviewees has ‘doubted’ their team affiliation, and their interest in sports means they attend and watch matches. Their fascination with what is happening on the terraces is not limited to the atmosphere itself; the interesting thing is also the status attributed to those already standing in the cheering section.” Further explanation and context are needed here. Is this a factor associated with joining a firm or sports? Was this a finding from the interviews? If so, then support should be included in the form of participant quotes. Also, how does this tie into further explaining why individuals join firms?

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