‘Five for fighting’: the culture and practice of legitimised violence in professional ice hockey

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Silverwood, Victoria
  • Subject: H1

This research investigates the phenomenon of violence through the lens of legitimised violence in ice hockey. The study locates ice hockey violence among the boundaries of criminality, where it is managed, organised and regulated outside of the criminal justice system. Here, violence is organised through an accepted code of conduct, widely understood and acknowledged by players, spectators and regulators. Violence is organised through the culture of hockey, situated in the spectacle of entertainment, the audience often displaying a carnivalesque thirst for violence. In sport, the criminological boundaries of violence are not set and enforced by criminal justice agencies; rather they are constructed, managed and mediated through the culture of the sport and an accepted code of behaviour. \ud Reflecting on an extended ethnography of the culture of professional hockey, this thesis considers the ever-changing cultural climate of sanctioned violence in the sport. Through ethnographic observation and extensive visually-elicited interviews; cultural and social identity, motives of violent behaviour, and situated meanings of hockey players are uncovered in a manner that has historically not been prioritised within criminological research of this area. The process of legitimisation of this physical violence is formed and shaped not only by players engaging in the sport, but by cultural factors that exist beyond the confines of the rink. Informed by broad structural themes such as power, masculinity and finance; shared interactions on the ice are a small part of the wider accepted justifications for otherwise illegal acts of violence.
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