Ever since football has been a sport, there has been the social problem of football Hooliganism. Football hooliganism refers to destructive behavior that is performed by football fans and is widely considered to be unruly and destructive behaviour. Actions such as fighting, vandalism and intimidation are carried out by football fans participating in football hooliganism. The behaviour is often based upon rivalry between different teams and conflict may take place before or after football matches. In this question I am going to be describing football hooliganism, explaining the theories behind it, what studies support the theories, evaluating these theories and then subsequently using alternative theories to explain how football hooliganism occurs.
The key issue we studied in the social approach was football hooliganism; we looked at what it is, who gets involved, why is it such key issue in society and how can Social Psychology be used to explain why football hooliganism occurs. It is a substantially large issue society because the football hooligans believe that they’re above the law as they feel they can do it without any repercussions.
There are many explanations of why football hooliganism occurs, but one we have looked at is Social Identity Theory. This theory states that just the simple act of grouping will lead to conflict, between in-groups and out-groups. When a person enters a football stadium and chooses to sit with a certain group of people (home fans or away fans), they are categorising themselves into that in-group, and the fans that are in the opposite side of the stadium are the opposition team, and then they become the out group. This is called social categorisation.
The second stage of Social Identity Theory is called social identification, and this occurs is when the people in the in-group find commonalities between each other. For example, in the context of football hooliganism, this is where they notice they are wearing the same shirts or colours as others around them. They then link their self-esteem to that of the in-group. They find differences between themselves and the fans in the out-group as they are wearing different shirts or colours and they subsequently realise that the out-group have different interests to them and they notice that they are people they do not wish to associate with.
The final stage of Social Identity Theory is Social Comparison; this occurs when the people in the in group start to compare themselves with those in the out-group, and this forms out-group denigration and in-group favouritism happens. Out group denigration is the act of prejudicing [having a positive or negative opinion on someone based on little or no knowledge on them] someone or a group of people, or through discrimination, which is where they act on this opinion. In-group favouritism refers to the fact that under certain conditions people will preference and have affinity for one’s in-group over the out-group, or anyone viewed as outside the in-group. This can be expressed in evaluation of others, linking, allocation of resources and many other ways.people will do anything in order to boost the self esteem of themselves and the in group, by making the out group look
bad, and this is achieved by either. In football this occurs when the in-group are chanting songs about the team they support in order to make them seem better than the other team; even if their team doesn’t win, they start chanting to make them seem better, and may even start fighting because they feel they need to win something.
Social Psychology, in my opinion, can be used to understand, prevent and stop football hooliganism to some extent, as Social Identity Theory helps explain why football hooliganism occurs. For instance, Social Identity Theory states that when people enter a stadium, they choose to sit with people that also support the team they have come to the stadium to, and, furthermore, choose this group of people are their in-group. This is an example of Social Categorization.