A Figurational Sociological Investigation into the Relationship Between Sport and Religion: Tottenham Hotspur and Judaism.

This research will demonstrate how Norbert Elias’ figurational theory gives an alternative theoretical framework to explore the relationship between sport and religion. This study will use Tottenham Hotspur Football Club as a case study and will explore supporters’ opinions and feelings on the clubs publicised connection to the Jewish religion, using Elias’s ‘personal pronoun’ model and the ‘established-outsiders’ concept. This study recruited (n=596) Tottenham Hotspur football fans via social media to participate in an online survey. Additional follow-up, unstructured interviews (n=10) were completed to gain in-depth, qualitative data. Three themes emerged as a result of thematic analysis: ‘embracing the Jewish community’, ‘sport and religion’, and ‘community’. Overall, many fans were proud of their Jewish heritage and community, while others argued that sport and religion are unrelated. Fans recognised similarities between sport fandom and religion, such as the sense of community and belonging they feel when surrounded by their co-religionists or football fans.