Studies of football hooliganism have developed in a number of academic disciplines, yet little of this literature directly relates to criminology. The fighting, disorderly conduct, and destructive behavior of those who attend football matches, especially in Europe has blossomed over the past thirty years and deserves criminological attention. Football hooliganism is criminal activity, but is unique because of its context specific nature, occurring almost entirely inside the grounds or in proximity to the stadiums where the matches are played. This project explores the need for criminological explanations of football hooligans and their behavior based on literature which indicates that subcultural theories may be valuable in understanding why this behavioral pattern has become a preserve for young, white, working-class males. This study employs Albert Cohen's (1955) theory of subcultural delinquency to predict the hooligan activities of young, white, working-class males. West and Farrington's longitudinal study, the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development provides a wealth of data on numerous topics, including hooliganism, and is used to explore the link between hooliganism and criminological theory. The running hypothesis, grounded in Cohen's theory of subcultural delinquency, is that the less middle-class the youths are in their values the more likely they will be to engage in football hooliganism. Cohen initially identified a locus of nine middle-class values: ambition, individual responsibility, achievement and performance, delayed gratification, rationality and planning, etiquette and the cultivation of social skills, self-control, wholesome leisure, and respect for property. These middle-class values have been modified into a shorter set of values; constructive leisure, acceptable conduct, self-reliance, and success, that are more mutually exclusive and easier to test empirically. Scales were constructed for each dimension of the modified version of Cohen's middle-class values using factor analysis with orthogonal rotation. Each scale then underwent reliability analysis using Chronbach's alpha. From there the scales for the middle-class values, the dependent variable of football hooliganism, and controls were tested using both bivariate and multivariate procedures. Results indicate that these modified middle-class values may be an important explanatory factor for football hooliganism.
In a near-empty House of Commons on Monday night - Tottenham Hotspur were playing Derby - Dr Ian Gibson (Lab, Norwich North) delivered as entertaining a dissertation on football hooliganism as is possible on this dreary if important subject. A Scot with a dry wit, Dr Gibson at times sounded like Dr Johnson.
'I support Norwich City,' he pointed out with a canny nod towards the people who keep him in work, 'where there have been very few problems over the years - although I remember Manchester United fans tearing down the asbestos cladding at the back of the Barclay Stand, which could, I suppose, be regarded as a piece of social engineering.'
He admitted to having little personal knowledge of hooliganism but he had done some research.
'Eduardo Archetti wrote an article entitled Playing Styles and Masculine Virtues in Argentine Football in Machos, Mistresses, Madonnas: Contesting the Power of Latin American Gender Imagery,' he revealed. 'Great reading.'
He gave thanks to the British Journal of Sociology for giving space to The Postmodernity of Football Hooliganism, along with, Football Hooliganism and the Practical Paradigm and Soccer Crowd Disorder and the Press: Processes of Amplification and Deamplification in Historical Perspective .
Dr Gibson mentioned a work by an unnamed Scottish friend - 'who, I remember, was quite a good goalkeeper' - entitled The Cappielow Riot and the Composition and Behaviour of Soccer Crowds in Late Victorian Scotland , and it was at this point that irony looked to be running up against weirdness. I needed to check the score.
While Glenn Hoddle was celebrating Spurs' 3-1 win, I switched back to the Parliament Channel to catch the doctor still in full flow.
'I can tell the House [which was filling up now, after full-time] that sociological violence has broken out across the nation as each sociology department in every British university disagrees with all the others about their analyses.'
He doubted it would lead anywhere, but added: 'I can assure the House that much effort has been put into the endeavour, and many young students are no doubt bored to death after being subjected to such sociological guff.'
Hear! Hear! Dr Gibson for sports minister, and hurry up about it, Prime Minister, before we entirely lose our sense of perspective.