Toward a contextual approach to violence in amateur soccer: Elias’ theory applied and tested in real-life situations

Research papers
By Thibault Delfavero

Elias’s theory of sports is part of a civilizational dimension that can be challenged only based on smaller-scale, especially empirical investigations. This contribution goes in that direction, and aims not as much to falsify Elias’s theory, than to test it in the context of a specific subject, in a particular field: violence (both physical and verbal) occurring in the context of amateur soccer. The article is going to show that these types of behavior are rather residual, scarce and random. Based on the results of research conducted in the context of a PhD thesis, this article will demonstrate that the occurrence and recurrence of the facts imply necessarily a process drawn from a micro-situational perspective. Indeed, statistics raise a much greater number of questions than the answers they are likely to provide. The logic of sanctions is more incriminating/discriminating than clarifying the conditions in which violence is produced, and the practical contexts that are most concerned provide only a set of conditions that are likely to give rise to violence, without guaranteeing actual violent acts, in every case. It seems that the logic of self-control plays out especially and mostly in the midst of real-life situations. This hypothesis, based on the results of several surveys, has led to the mobilization of the contributions of Elias’ figurational sociology within a player/situation dimension.

  • amateur soccer
  • violence
  • self-control
  • situations.
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