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Female Fandom in an English ‘Sports City’: A sociological study of female spectating and consumption around sport

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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.



editors comments

Editor's comments -  [ The above is the abstract from an original PhD thesis; the final publication in the study for the author in pursuit of a doctorate; such works result in the author being awarded a PhD and the title of Dr. by an appropriately accedited University. PhD's are the culmination of a number of years work by the author supervised by two (normally PhD or MPhil qualified) academics and, with the addition of a further appropriately qualified academic (not normally from the same University) as part of a viva-voce examination team. Successful research work at PhD level is designed to add to the body of knowledge in the study area at some level.

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APA reference for this document


Reference : Pope, S. E. (2010). Female Fandom in an English ‘Sports City’: A sociological study of female spectating and consumption around sport. PhD Thesis. Leicester: University of Leicester. Available from


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Access this URL (, S. E. (2010). Female Fandom in an English ‘Sports City’: A sociological study of female spectating and consumption around sport. PhD Thesis. Leicester: University of Leicester
Last Updated on Monday, 06 August 2012 12:43  

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