An ethnography of English football fans

Cans, cops and carnivals

By Geoff Pearson

An ethnography of English football fans


  • Paperback

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8721-9
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £65.00
  • Published Date: July 2012
  • BIC Category: Society & social sciences / Physical anthropology, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural, Sociology
  • Series: New Ethnographies


This book is an ethnographic account of English football fans, based upon sixteen years' of participant observation. The author identifies a distinct sub-culture of supporter - the 'carnival fan' - who dominated the travelling support of the three teams observed - Manchester United, Blackpool and the England National Team. This accessible account follows these groups home and abroad, describing their interpretations, motivations and behaviour and challenging a number of the myths about 'hooliganism' and crowd control.

The text will be of value to anyone studying, researching or interested in ethnographic modes of enquiry or the behaviour of football fans. In particular it will be of value to anyone involved in the academic disciplines of policing, criminal justice, sociology, criminology, sports studies and research methods. It also makes recommendations for the management of football crowds that will be of use to practitioners involved in policing, crowd control and event management.


Geoff Pearson is Lecturer in Law at the University of Liverpool's Management School


1. Introduction
2. Ethnography: theory, method and practice
3. The football carnival
4. Identity and expression
5. Fans or hooligans?
6. Authority and social control
7. Alcohol and the effectiveness of alcohol controls
8. Attitudes to gender, sexuality, race and disability
9. The impact of technology
10. Conclusions

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