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"Becoming a football hooligan: Applying the Differential Association Theory in a new way" (by Petter Ingemarsson): Review 2

Published onApr 03, 2024
"Becoming a football hooligan: Applying the Differential Association Theory in a new way" (by Petter Ingemarsson): Review 2

Vote: Publish pending major changes.

Based on 8 interviews of self-confessed hooligans in three Stockholm based football clubs the paper explores the applicability of one specific classical criminological paradigm- that abbreviated to DAT. The paper claims to be seeking the micro-level processes of joining a football ‘firm’ utilising elements of symbolic interactionism. The claim that in the 1980’s and 19990’s that DAT was at the ‘centre of debates’ needs clarification; what debates were they and who was debating?


Is too brief. Big processes and changes are hinted at but no causation offered. The paper is entirely ahistorical.

Previous Research

The focus on Dunning et al on social class was secondary to their application of the meta-theroy of the Civilising Process.

The author talks of ‘the masculine code’ but assumes this is a monolith and offers no account of the local origins of masculine performances.

What exactly is ‘the entire culture of violence..’??

What are the origins of that termed ‘the sense of community’ and where does fit into Swedish models of social inclusion?

What constitutes ‘Honor’ in both Swedish society and the culture of a ‘firm’ and how is it policed?

What in the life of a ‘firm’ is ‘memorable’ and why? And to whom?

Explain the historical role of alcohol in Swedish society and in particular male sociability.


What is there to learn from joining a ‘firm’?

How is joining enabled?


The approach to seeking respondents sounds a little ludicrous. Might the author tell a reader more about himself and what his social background is and why he was inspired to conduct such research?

The 8 who agreed to be interviewed; a reader learns only their age-range and nothing more.This is hardly qualitative research and certainly not the ‘thick description’ claimed at the end of the paper. The author of that latter phrase I note is not referenced.

Results and Analysis

All liked football. All spoke of ‘status’ but there is no considewration as to who recognized and cared for the ‘firm’.

There seems to be two ‘firms’ the drinkers and the fighters but the relationship between the two is never discussed.

Something called the ‘communication process’ is presented but the analysis is vague.

The practice of ‘not backing down’ is introduced but no context is considered. In the face of what a reader might ask? Are the respondents all claiming to have never ceded ground in the ir various contests? If they do get ‘run’ what is the subsequent outcome?

Who are the ‘firms’ playing to and what does the court of reputations consist of?


Analysis that speaks of adrenaline rush and desire to fight is superficial.

The notion of normative engagement needs elaboration; what is legitimate to utilize in disorder? Is street furniture and missiles from bars OK?

What indeed requires a response and why?

What are the boundaries of violent response?

What requires ostracism and who has the ability to ostracize the errant participant?

Who are the ‘gate-keepers’ of the firm and how did they attain this status?

What constitutes ‘prestige’ and who allocates it? Is such prestige transferable? IS there social capital is such prestige?

This section is in desperate need of Bourdieu’s notions of Capital. Habitus and Doxa.

Sense of Community

What does the ‘firm’ offer that wider society does not?

When is society so nice and bland that the best response is transgressive and potentially violent behaviours?

What exactly is ‘partying’ and where is it done and what does it consist of?

What in their world is bullying’ and what is the expected response?


The notion of ‘respect’ enters the analysis; what is it and who provides the respect?

What does the citizenry of Stockholm think of the ‘firm’ and does it provide for the respect some seek?

Anti-Criminal Factors

What did the participants think of the law and indeed the agents of the state deployed to control them? What did they avoid?

A feel some consideration should be given to the notion of ‘selves’ and the varieties of persona’s the contemporary urban dwelling individual can have.


Is not very revealing because of the following:-

  • A reader learns next to nothing about the lives and times of the 8 respondents.

  • What exactly is the attraction of the ‘firm’? When does necessity enter their world?

  • There is no consideration given to the nation of carnival see Presdee) or the codes of the street ( see Anderson).

  • Is this much about the art of intimidation as much a violence?

  • Are the ‘firms’ an existential response to what me might term ‘the enslaving violence of the agreeable?


Lippincott et al seems out of sequence

Claiming the ‘firm’ has an explicit identification with violence the extent of this violence is never really explored. What is instrumental and what is performative is needed. What is initiated and why and what is considered appropriate to defend is also not presented.

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