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Theorizing surveillance and social spacing through football: The fan-opticon and beyond

Turner, M and Ludvigsen, J (2022) Theorizing surveillance and social spacing through football: The fan-opticon and beyond. Sociology Compass, 17 (2). ISSN 1751-9020

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Open Access URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/soc4.13055 (Published version)


This article critically examines the temporal mobilizations of a 25-year football supporter social movement against the all-seating (stadia) legislation in England and Wales, to unpack, and advance, (neo-)Foucauldian panoptic theorizations of surveillance power and counter-power. Drawing upon prior empirically informed analysis of this movement; ‘Safe Standing’, the article interrogates new policy-based outcomes, including the early adoption of ‘licensed (Safe) Standing’ technology in 2022, to argue, that whilst publicly framed as a movement victory, it simultaneously serves to prefigure a new regulatory regime in football; one which extends the regulation and surveillance of fans within the wider social and corporate lifeworld. Introducing our new concept; the ‘fan-opticon’, the article discusses how Safe Standing continues to normalize a momentum of surveillance in sport and highlights the contradictory nature of security-related projects in the twenty-first century. We conclude that the governmentality of the state through football, to be characteristic of temporally sensitive hermeneutic struggles of power and resistance, through the discipline, and self-discipline of social actors. New forms of subjectivity are remoulded in ways which extend the power of surveillance and regulation, despite multiple counter-conduct, and discursive, resistance practices.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 1608 Sociology; 2001 Communication and Media Studies
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV561 Sports
Divisions: Humanities & Social Science
Publisher: Wiley
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 10 Mar 2023 11:54
Last Modified: 10 Mar 2023 12:00
DOI or ID number: 10.1111/soc4.13055
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/19077
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