The Safe Standing movement: vectors in the post-Hillsborough timescape of English football

Mark Turner

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    This article draws upon archival and fieldwork research to analyse the longer-term impact which all-seated stadia have had on football supporters’ consumption of the game in England. Consequently, 26 supporter activists identified as important in building a rich social history of activism were interviewed as a type of activist life story. By analysing empirical snapshots of a 30-year social movement against all-seated stadia, the article cross-pollinates ideas from sociology and social movement studies on eventful protests and temporality, to show how events and ruptures shape the dynamics of a social movement, and secondly, to show how discursive vectors indicate the developing understanding, by networked actors, of the stakes of a movement’s core conflict. In English football, historically significant events like the Hillsborough disaster continue to shape many of the key mobilisations of supporter networks, and their collective, but also complex and contradictory consumption of the game. This movement, Safe Standing, is sociologically important, because it evidences the complex interplay of cultural and technological vectors and their manifestation across the compelling timeframes and orientations which make up the consumption of English football in a post-Hillsborough timescape. By engaging in a 30-year struggle over Hillsborough as a restlessness event, Safe Standing sought to gain control over the interpretation of this timescape and is characterised by the complex struggle supporters face over the ritualistic expression of identity and solidarity.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)348-364
    Number of pages17
    JournalSociological Review
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2021


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