Mark Doidge – Refugees United: The importance of activism in football scholarship

Video of Mark Doidge (University of Brighton, UK) of his keynote at the Football, Politics and Popular Culture conference, Limerick (2017). The quality is not fantastic, but in the spirit of The Football Collective, we have made it happen on a budget!


Doidge, Mark (2018) Refugees United: The role of activism and football in supporting refugees In: Carter, ThomasBurdsey, Daniel and Doidge, Mark, eds. Transforming Sport: Knowledges, Practices and Structures. Routledge, Abingdon. ISBN 9781138052246

Refugees United – the importance of activism in football scholarship

Mark Doidge – University of Brighton


Football is the world’s most popular sport and therefore an excellent way of engaging in
a critical public sociology of sport. This keynote will argue that political activism and
public engagement are not only important areas of research but an important way of
challenging the power structures in society. Drawing on Ian McDonald’s (2002) work on
radical interventions and underpinned by the work of Alvin Gouldner, it will argue that
by remaining true to robust social science and critically reflecting on one’s own position
we can (and I will argue should) use this knowledge to ensure that the most vulnerable
in our society are not exploited. Working in academia is an immense privilege and using
this knowledge for the benefit of wider society is the role we should undertake. Active
engagement publicly through voluntarism or activism, can bring our critical sociology to
a wider audience, who in turn can try and influence their networks. As Marx (1972: 123)
stated ‘philosophers have only interpreted the world… the point is to change it’.

Dr. Mark Doidge is Senior Research Fellow in the School of Sport and Service Management at the University of Brighton. He is an expert on European football and political activism amongst football fans and has undertaken extensive ethnographic studies and interviews with groups across Europe. Through this work he is a director of the Anti-Discrimination Division of Football Supporters Europe. Dr Doidge’s current research focuses on the role of sport (and football in particular) in supporting refugees and asylum seekers, both in camps and in host communities. He is the author of Football Italia: Italian Football in an Age of Globalization (2015, Bloomsbury), co-editor of Sociologists’ Tales (2015, Policy Press) and is currently co-writing a monograph entitled Collective Action and Football Fandom: A Relational Sociological Approach with Jamie Cleland, Peter Millward and Paul Widdop (expected publication date late 2017 with Palgrave Macmillan).

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