Coming home through football: A geographic exploration of long-distance fandom
Baker, T. A. (2018). Coming home through football: A geographic exploration of long-distance fandom (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12009
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12009
This thesis focuses on the relationship between long-distance football fandom and home. It examines how the act of supporting non-domestic football clubs is a symbolic and material connection to multiple scales of home for 32 long-distance football fans, aged between 17–65, who live in Aotearoa New Zealand. I argue that football fans and homes are mutually constituted and continually reproduced through football fandom practices. Examining fan practice from the scale of the body through to the globe demonstrates how multiple homes interplay with fan practice. Literature on home and literature on sport have not yet been combined by scholars. Drawing these two bodies of work together offers the opportunity to unpack fans’ relationships to ‘things’, between ‘people’ and to ‘places’, providing a window into critical geographies of identities. Social, cultural, feminist and emotional geographies of home and qualitative research methods frame this research. A range of methods are combined to create a holistic view of the complex and messy relationships which construct fan identities and homes. Semi-structured interviews with 27 men and five women participants along with self-directed photography, ‘going-alongs’, participant sensings and textual data analysis were used to examine participants experiences of football fandom and home. Findings are organised into three intersecting themes: things; people; and, places. The first theme focuses on how connections to a club are established and maintained through material cultures of home. Material objects construct home not only through a physical presence but also through becoming infused with emotions and memory. Unpacking the relationships between ‘people’ which shape fan identities is the second theme. Fans and their homes are gendered, raced and classed through the act of supporting a club. The relationship to ‘place’ is the third theme, where I examine the multiple places which influence fan identities. Here fan ‘homes’ are imagined as multi-scalar and I highlight the ways in which connections to a club are key to fluid notions of home and identity. This research demonstrates that football fandom offers a unique opportunity to geographers. Fandom spaces are under-researched and worthy of further scrutiny. Examining the relationships between home and fandom sheds light on the workings of power across a range of scales from the body, to the nation and the globe. Football fans’ homes are messy, complex, varied lived and felt.
The University of Waikato
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