A sociological analysis of the monetisation of social relations within the working lives of professional footballers
AuthorsLaw, Graeme C.
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AbstractIn recent years one of the most commonly discussed issues in professional sport, and in particular Association Football, has been the pay of professional athletes. However, much of this literature is largely based on assumptions, speculation or broad financial reports, with little, if any, focus on the potential impact on the athletes’ lives. Therefore, the aim of this research was to examine the role money plays in the relationships within the working lives of professional footballers. Using professional football as a case study, this project examined a number of key areas: the consumption of products by footballers as a demonstration of economic power and wealth in an environment where wages are a taboo subject, the complex nature of contract negotiations and the impact this can have on relationships within their working lives. In addition to these areas, the thesis examined how money is used as punishment for players to try to encourage them to conform to the expected codes of behaviour set by club managers and officials, and ways in which players attempt to break their highly routinised daily life. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 34 male professional footballers and analysed using concepts from the sociology of money. It is argued that image has become an important factor for many professional footballers. Displaying wealth through ‘conspicuous consumption’ was also important in an environment where wages are a secretive subject, as it is suggested that the ‘more you have, the better you are’ and therefore some players even felt that this would impact on the way in which they were valued by the club hierarchy (as well as their teammates within the club). Value was also important through contract negotiations, as the more a player was valued by a club, the greater balance of power they had within the negotiation process. It is argued the negotiation process has become more complex since the introduction of the Premier League, as more people are typically involved. It was also evident that money was a major factor for players when deciding on contracts or having to relocate, which led to feelings of loneliness for some players and their families. Players are heavily regulated and constrained within their lives, one-way players are constrained, by the club officials, is through financial punishment. Players discussed several methods of trying to break the routinisation that such constraints introduce. One of those was gambling. It is argued that some players, due to the technological advances, were able to gamble in a covert manner and keep their gambling losses private, which can impact on the performance, health and wellbeing of the players. Overall the results of this study highlight the increasing monetisation of social relationships within professional football and that such trends are significantly impacting on the relationships within the working lives of professional footballers.
CitationLaw, G. C. (2018). A sociological analysis of the monetisation of social relations within the working lives of professional footballers. (Doctoral dissertation). University of Chester, United Kingdom.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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