Citizen, consumer, citimer: The interplay of market and political identities within contemporary football fan cultures

2018-02-20T09:10:38Z (GMT) by Dino Numerato Richard Giulianotti
This paper examines how football, sport and other cultural fields are characterized by complex interrelations between ‘citizen’ and ‘consumer’ identities. Our analysis centres specifically on critically examining and developing the concept of ‘citimer’ (citizen-consumer) with respect to activist supporter groups within European professional men’s football. First, to establish the structural and cultural context for our analysis, we argue that the emergence of citizen-consumer identities in football has been driven by five underlying processes: globalization, commodification, securitization, mediatization, and postmodernization. Critical football fan movements have responded to these changes through greater reflexivization and politicization. Second, drawing on the broad academic literature, we develop the concept of the citizen-consumer (or ‘citimer’) and introduce its relevance to football. Third, to provide a more nuanced understanding of the citizen-consumer, we explore how this ‘citimer’ identity is constructed in two ways: ‘from below’ (by fan groups themselves at everyday level) and ‘from above’ (by clubs, governing bodies, media and other powerful forces within the football system). In both instances, we find that the citizen and consumer aspects of the citimer identity are interrelated in complex ways. Fourth, we conclude by highlighting the political reflexivity of citimers, and areas for future research. Our analysis draws on extensive data collection: with football supporters and officials in the Czech Republic, England and Italy, and at the wider European level; and, through access to diverse primary and secondary documents (e.g. policy papers, fanzines, and online forums). Our findings may be applied to examine citimer identities, practices and social relations not just within football and sport, but in many other cultural fields, such as art, communication, drama, fashion, film, and music.