Standing here: rituals, rights, and the radical democratization of football spectatorship

David Webber, Mark Turner

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    Since the mid-1990s, a hermeneutic struggle has unfolded within English football between those spectators who wish to stand at matches, and the ‘risks’ associated with this practice. Here, the authorities have sought to constrain this form of leisure through an anti-democratic, authoritarian regime of discipline and control. By designating the ritual of standing as ‘a right to leisure’, however, this article draws upon radical democratic theory to re-imagine this practice as a contested activity; one which has the potential to challenge the neoliberal basis of football spectatorship itself and restore the collectivism that was a much-loved feature of the terraced community. By restating the social value of free-standing terraces, and the potentialities that standing itself offers for political emancipation, we argue that this ritual might itself become a rights-based resource of radical democracy for spectators to engage in an altogether more participatory form of leisure.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalAnnals of Leisure Research
    Publication statusPublished - 13 Feb 2023

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