Female Fandom in an English ‘Sports City’: A sociological study of female spectating and consumption around sport
2010-08-02T14:23:16Z (GMT) by
This thesis is an exploratory study which examines, comparatively, the largely neglected area of female sports fandom. Using the UK East Midlands city of Leicester as a case study site for the research, 85 semi-structured interviews were conducted with three generations of female fans of football (Leicester City) and rugby union (Leicester Tigers). The thesis emerges, broadly speaking, out of the recent feminist tradition of research on sport and leisure, but uses Glaser and Strauss’s (2008) ‘grounded theory’ approach to data collection and analysis to seek to ‘add’ a sociological account of women’s experiences as sports fans to the existing research on women and leisure. The main aim was to consider the extent to which, and how, sports fandom figures in the leisure lives of women in different sporting contexts today and in the recent past. Continuity, as well as change, in women’s sporting lives was a central theme. Whilst some women overcame barriers to their involvement in sport as players and spectators, many obstacles continue to restrict women’s leisure involvement as active fans. The thesis examines the distinctiveness of women’s experience of spectator sport as a changing commercial and cultural product in England from the post-war period, stressing both similarities, but also important differences between men’s and women’s historical experiences of these sports. The differential extent to which sports fandom fosters a positive ‘sense of place’ for females was explored, as was the mutual hostility often expressed between female football and rugby fans which is largely attributed to the combined impact of relations of place, gender and social class. Little existing research has explored this complex terrain. Finally, important differences between women in terms of the wider meanings they attribute to their involvement in sport were revealed which other approaches to the study of fandom largely fail to acknowledge.