- Ta(l)king sides: ethical and methodological challenges in comparative fieldwork on avid football rivalries
- Soccer and Society
- Volume | Issue number
- 12 | 5
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Previous research on football (soccer) fan cultures has documented the lived experiences of devoted football supporters. Few studies, however, have used participant observation and intensive interviewing to examine the deep-rooted inter-group oppositions that characterize avid football rivalries. Even fewer have done this involving both sides of a rivalry and in countries and cultures unknown or unfamiliar to the researcher. This essay examines the process of doing qualitative research in such settings. Fieldwork experiences in Italy, Spain, England and the Netherlands are used to report and reflect on the ethical and methodological challenges associated with comparative research into inter-group conflicts in the football context. There are specific dilemmas that relate directly to the task of studying multiple sides of a football rivalry. Accusations of partiality and ethical criticisms of the researcher’s betrayal of one side against the other are rife, particularly in situations where intra-group cleavages and a strong distrust of the police exist.
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