Document Type



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


Other social sciences

Publication Details

Sport in Society, Vol. 12, No. 2, March 2009, 196–211. ISSN 1743-0437 print/ISSN 1743-0445 online doi: 10.1080/17430430802590995 Access the published version here:


This essay examines the sport of hurling in Ireland through the theoretical framework of sport and leisure developed by Elias and Dunning. Through an analysis of newspaper reports of games, of rulebooks and codes of play, as well as historical data on increasing social differentiation and integration, we argue that hurling has undergone sportization and civilizing processes. However, due to the unevenness of wider figurational shifts these processes have been non-linear and fragile. Gradually, we see increasing numbers of rules, as well as increasing severity of punishment for the breaking of specific rules relating to violent play. The level and extent of violent conduct also appears to change with both players and spectators becoming more self-controlled. The increasing emotional restraint of spectators and players can be explained by the changes in the overall structure of Irish society during this period, particularly from the 1960s onwards with increasing interdependencies between people.