Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Sociology, History

Publication Details

Dolan, Paddy and John Connolly (forthcoming) ‘Emotions, violence and social belonging: An Eliasian analysis of sports spectatorship’, Sociology.

Published online before print June 6, 2013,


This paper examines the development of different forms of spectator violence in terms of the socio-temporal structure of situational dynamics at Gaelic football matches in Ireland. The nature of violent encounters has shifted from a collective form based on local solidarity and a reciprocal code of honour, through a transitional collective form based on deferred emotional satisfaction and group pride, towards increasing individualization of spectator violence. This occurs due to the shifting objects of emotional involvement. As the functional specialization of the various roles in the game is partially accepted by spectators, the referee becomes the target of anger. Violence becomes more individualized as ‘mutually expected self-restraint’ proceeds within the context of relative state pacification beyond the field of play and the formation of a less volatile habitus. We use Elias’s figurational perspective on violence over the micro-interactional approach of Randall Collins, but support Collins’ emphasis on state legitimacy.