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2 janvier 2016 6 02 /01 /janvier /2016 09:43
  • Heather Shore


As Geoffrey Pearson memorably noted in 1983, ‘The word hooligan made an abrupt entrance into common English usage, as a term to describe gangs of rowdy youths, during the hot summer of 1898.’2 Nevertheless, the behaviour that would preoccupy the press and public in 1898 was far from novel. Descriptions of youth gang fighting in the metropolis had been circulating from the early 1880s. Moreover, street-based youth gang conflicts had already been identified as a significant problem in three key English cities from the 1870s, and the fights between gangs of youths that can be found in London from the 1880s were remarkably similar to those that had troubled Manchester and Salford, Birmingham and Liverpool since a decade or so earlier.3 The extent to which such conflicts represented new forms of youthful delinquency and/or street violence is debatable: there are significant continuities with the older models of street disorder as well as with the descriptions of ‘organised gangs’ of ruffians that would follow in the early twentieth century.4 In this chapter the intention is not to simply revisit the hooligan ‘panic’, but rather to place it within a longer trajectory of concerns about street violence and disorder. Thus late-Victorian and Edwardian depictions of young men (and in some cases women) ‘holding the street’, what Pearson describes as a ‘violent ritual of territorial supremacy’, echo the crowds of hustling thieves and pickpockets who ‘pushed’, ‘pulled’, ‘jostled’, ‘surrounded’ and ‘hustled’ the crowds and pedestrians of the earlier nineteenth-century metropolis.5

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