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The social, cultural, and political dimensions of violence in Argentinian football: An ethnographic account

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
My dissertation examines the interplay between football, politics, violence, and morality in Argentina by considering the role of club officials, politicians, and fans, among other actors, in the spread and perpetuation of corruption and violence within and beyond football clubs. Employing a grounded, inductive, and interpretive approach to fieldwork research, I analyze – through observations, semi-structured interviews, participant observation, and document analysis – the degree to which certain practices related to different understandings of violence and corruption have become naturalized within the context of Argentinian football and, by extension, in Argentinian society as a whole. I begin by exploring the degree to which Hecho Club Social, a non-governmental organization that promotes social integration and personal change through street football among socially vulnerable populations (e.g. homeless people and addicts), challenges the deeply rooted association between passion and violence in football by providing a space where participants support each other through camaraderie. I then analyze different understandings and manifestations of passion in football by comparing the Argentinian case with my observations of crowd behaviour at Toronto Football Club's games. This comparison reveals that, in Argentina, rival fans are often identified as enemies. Responding to a concern within political anthropology with the role of clientelism, I also examine the relationships between club officials, politicians, and organized groups of violent fans, known as barras bravas. These relationships shed light on the nature of Argentina's culture of impunity while highlighting the difficulties in developing solutions aimed at eradicating violence from football stadiums. Furthermore, I argue that the political and economic interests of the actors involved in informal agreements within football clubs perpetuate the conditions that allow barras bravas to thrive. Taking into account the circumstances that inform the behaviour of the actors that make up the world of Argentinian football, I consider the degree to which social and cultural change is an attainable goal given the country's moral and legal landscape.
270 pages.
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Copyright is held by the author(s).
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Dyck, Noel
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