Unanticipated Outcomes of Social Movements: The Case of Football Fan Activism

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Hörsaal BIG 2 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Dino NUMERATO, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic
The aim of this paper is to critically explore unanticipated outcomes of social movements on the example of transnational football fan activism. The study is focused on the unintended social dynamics that arise following a critical engagement of football fans with contemporary football culture (e.g. the processes of commodification, securitization of the game or corruption and mismanagement). To analyse different types of unintended social dynamics, this study theoretically extends Simmel’s distinction between social form and social content by introducing the notion of meta-form. By assuming that any standpoint of social movements represents a meta-form that is strictly intertwined with existing and contested social forms and contents, I would argue that unanticipated outcomes of social movements are materialized as reconfigurations of the assumed relation between meta-form, social forms and contents. Hence, a critical perspective of fan activists can be understood as a meta-form that is related to social forms and social contents of contested football culture and aims to transform these forms and contents. However, the stated goal of fan activism, to transform social forms and contents of football culture, is frequently undermined due to internal differentiation of football fan activism and due to the dynamics between political and football authorities, and football fans. The research is empirically informed by a transnational qualitative study. The data that underpin the analysis are drawn from a variety of primary and secondary sources available online and offline. Firstly, semi-structured interviews with supporters, football associations’ and football clubs’ officials, mainly from Italy, the UK and the Czech Republic have been carried out. The research is further informed by a documentary analysis of newspaper articles, e-zines, blogs, internet discussions and websites. The paper is part of the wider FP7 EC project "Football fandom, reflexivity and social change (FANSREF)".