Violent fan fluctuations: A diffusion perspective to explain supporters' violence

Robert Braun, Rem Vliegentharf*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


In this article, we address the question of how diffusion mechanisms predict the level of violence among soccer fans. We embed possible causes of violent fan behavior in a theoretical framework of diffusion, as social movement scholars deploy it to study other instances of collective violence. Four possible diffusion explanations are examined: social status of transmitters (both other fan-sides as well as soccer players), status similarity of adopter and transmitter, direct ties as captured by geographical distance, and indirect ties as measured by media coverage. These explanations are tested for the occurrence of violence around soccer matches in the Netherlands during the period 2001-2005. We employ a pooled complementary log-log analysis offourteen teams over two hundred match weeks and control for repression, city size, and several match characteristics. We find considerable evidence for three of the four proposed explanations and demonstrate that aggressive play on the pitch, hooliganism by fan-sides with similar status, and media coverage are significant explanatory factors for the evolution of fan violence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-44
Number of pages22
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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