Football and the Military in Contemporary Britain: An Exploration of Invisible Nationalism

Roger Penn, Damon Berridge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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This article examines the relationship between football (soccer) and the military in Britain to explore how “invisible nationalism” has evolved. Here, invisible nationalism refers to the phenomena by which the presence of the military at major British sporting events is both highly visual and has been rendered culturally and politically invisible: It is hidden “in plain sight.” We applied the conceptual framework associated with the “Annales” School of structuralist history to explore how the inextricable links between football, the military, the monarchy, and established church have influenced the evolution of invisible nationalism. We conducted ethnographic fieldwork, including observations, interviews, and focus groups, and also analyzed visual data. These comprised television broadcasts of national sporting events and figures taken at English football clubs. We conclude that the power of the dominant metanarratives of British nationalism serves to render these phenomena invisible to most spectators, especially those who consume football via television.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-138
Number of pages23
JournalArmed Forces and Society
Issue number1
Early online date12 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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