The civilizing and sportization of Gaelic football in Ireland: 1884–2008

John Connolly, Dublin City University
Paddy Dolan, Dublin Institute of Technology

Journal of Historical Sociology 23(4)


Over the course of the last 125 years the sport of Gaelic football in Ireland has undergone a sportization and civilizing process as the rules governing the sport became stricter and players developed greater levels of self-control. However, the civilizing of Gaelic football was a particularly fragile and uneven process. The growing social desire to diminish displays of violence was moderated by ambivalence towards violence. Gradually the external social controls on players increased and, greater and more stable levels of internalization occurred reflected by more advanced levels of player self-restraint in the control of violence. At the same time the threshold of shame toward displays of violence advanced. This transformation was shaped by lengthening chains of social interdependencies in Ireland.