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  7. Research Degree - The experience of female football fans in England: a qualitative study

Research Degree - The experience of female football fans in England: a qualitative study

carrie dunn

Research centre
Communication and Computing Research Centre


Research Degree Project

There is little, arguably insufficient literature in the mainstream (or ‘malestream’) domain of sports research focusing exclusively on female football supporters and looking at their reasons for their fandom as well as their particular experiences. This thesis, based on 100 questionnaire responses and 27 in-depth face-to-face interviews, explores respondents’ narratives, analysis and perception of their own experience as a football supporter.

It positions itself within a tradition of feminist standpoint research, defining the researcher interrogating the object of her own fandom as an ‘aca/fan’, and stressing the importance of self-reflexivity. Jennifer Hargreaves (1994: 1) refers to her own research as a ‘political intervention’ as she works to make women’s sport a standard topic for sports sociology scholarship; my intent is to do the same for women’s sports fandoms.

The qualitative interviews have given rise to three key themes – the female fan’s ‘supporting career’, her practices of fandom and the ways in which she negotiates her identity, and her experience of the importance of the supporters’ trust movement. It also discusses the responses of clubs and football authorities to their female fans and their intentions (or failures) to market the sport to girls and women.

Although every object of fandom and performance of fandom is different in both perception and practice, whether the individual is male or female, this research shows that there are some significant overlaps in experience and performance among people who share a particular fandom. However, female fans – even though they identify themselves simply as ‘fans’ – also share an experience of negotiating a complex fan identity as women within a sport that is institutionally sexist.

Project Supervisors

(since transferring to SHU in 2011)

Researchers involved

Dr Carrie Dunn - Research Degree Student - Alumni (2011-2012)

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