Asking questions about ootball violence builds on but also departs romover three decades o study into the origins o social violence within this envi-ronment.
Commentators on ootball disorder have addressed the phenomenono violence and aggression rom diferent perspectives and through diverse the-oretical approaches in what has become a massive body o literature.
Earlyresearchers attempted to determine the causes o spectators’ violence in an efortto minimize its incidence, and in certain cases, contributed to government policydiscussions about the phenomenon. Sociologists used surveys, interviews withans and newspaper reports to detail the long history o sports violence and its prevalence among ‘rough’ working-class men resisting the ‘civilizing’ imperative.
Tis ‘gurational’ approach addressed outbursts as a ‘quest or excitement’ withinthe constraining civilizing processes o modern society.
Social psychologists per-ceived ootball violence as a psychological reaction to boredom and a need toinvigorate social relationships through the search or ‘elt arousal’ through violentinteraction.
Sports anthropologists have entered the academic debate on violenceand identity through participant observation.
Teir ethnographies showed thatspecicities o cultural identity ormation and sociological interaction among groups encouraged violence as an expression o social cohesion and communityloyalty.
Tese researchers have efectively shown how ootball violence, becauseo its deep associations with group identity, partisan devotion, aggressive mascu-linity and resistance to authority, cannot be easily eradicated.
Tis book represents a departure rom previous studies o ootball violencein three ways. First, rather than urther interrogating the origins o an subjec-tivities or the group dynamics o social violence, this study looks at the waysin which the British state contributed to cycles o violence through directing policies against ootball spectators. As one historian phrased it, ootball vio-lence ‘remains important to any study o this period because it dominated theinternal politics o ootball and brought the game more closely in contact thanever beore with the government and the law’.
Analysing the role o politiciansand state agencies in coordinating responses to ootball violence lls a gaping hole in previous research on the topic.
As the ollowing chapters demonstrate,government and police authorities attempted a total policy o containmentthrough a variety o institutional, legal and architectural means. Limiting spec-tators’ mobility and increasing police powers reected politicians’ willingness touse violence against its working-class citizens. Te rst part o this study analy-ses how the state constructed normative discourses o class and gender whichlabelled working-class ootball spectators as deviant, brutish, belligerent andunmanly, and thus legitimated violent actions against them throughout the1970s and 1980s. In the second part o the book I engage government and policerecords to reveal the critical role government ministers played in coordinating national police policies, architectural innovations and sentencing procedures