Casual culture and football hooligan autobiographies: Popular memory, working-class men and racialised masculinities in deindustrialising Britain, 1970s–1990s

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This article explores the development of an important subculture which has received scant academic attention: football’s casual movement of the 1980s. By analysing hooligan autobiographies, it investigates how the casual look spread from Merseyside and Manchester in the late 1970s to encompass every major city and town in Britain by the middle of the following decade. It delineates the attractions of the hooligan firms and shows how, through their use of ritualised violence they fought to become hegemonic in working-class communities. It explores how two key myths about football hooligans became dominant in the popular memory of the 1970s and 1980s. First, the hooligan became uniquely associated with racism in the popular imaginary. The second dominant myth was that the widespread consumption of the drug ecstasy during the acid house and rave years between c.1988 and 1992 saw the end of terrace violence. While the autobiographies largely provide support for the latter, the former is more complex. Via the analysis of the testimony of black and white football hooligans, I show that the racist/hooligan couplet did important ideological work to conceal the degree to which racism continued to figure in British football, into the 1990s, despite the decline in football-related violence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-117
Number of pages23
JournalContemporary British History
Issue number1
Early online date9 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • hegemonic masculinity
  • racism
  • Soccer
  • subcultures
  • violence

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