Excitement, Fair Play, and Instrumental Attitudes

Images of Legality in Football, Hockey, and PC Games

Bo Carlsson

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The study deals with the legal culture of football and hockey and the manner in which this culture is reflected in computer games. Legal culture refers to the rules of the game as well as the values inherent in the historical development of the two sports. The study highlights the application of the rules on the pitch and rink, bearing witness to an increasing instrumental attitude towards different means of rule breaking.

A concurrent trend among national and international organisations is to increase the sense of fair play within the sports. The study shows, however, that these norms and values struggle against a bitter reality in which increasing professionalisation, large-scale industrialism, and seriosity contribute towards the instrumental attitude.

Finally, the study discusses the way in which today’s PC-games present and treat norms, and PC-games’ image of cheating, violence, and rule breaking. This highlights a danger that, in their desire to be “true to life,” PC-games fail to convey the ideological history and traditional values of sports.

The study is based on socio-legal theory on the legal culture of everyday life and visual legal communication. It also connects to Norbert Elias’ studies on the sociology of sports focusing on the human need for a regulated and controlled source of excitement.

Bo Carlsson is Associate Professor in Sociology of Law at the Department of Sociology, Lund University.

Additional information

Weight 195 g
Dimensions 5 × 165 × 240 mm


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