Segmentation

Baumann further adapts Edward E. Evans-Pritchard’s concept of segmentation from his study of the Nuer (1940) to his grammars. Interestingly, Baumann uses a football example to illustrate how selves and others, or in this case more precisely rivalries and loyalties, can change or shift depending on different contexts. He describes how on a local level, fans of antagonist clubs cheer for different local clubs. Yet on a regional or national level, they might support the very same team (Baumann 2004, p. 22). Baumann summarises:

The Other may be my foe in a context placed at a lower level of segmentation, but may simultaneously be my ally in a context placed at a higher level of segmentation. Identity and alterity are thus a matter of context, and contexts are ranked according to classificatory levels. (2004, p. 23)

For today’s football and also for my research field, the approach of segmentation to loyalties and rivalries might be too linear. The shifting of loyalties does not necessarily only work from the local to the national level, but can also happen in many different constellations. In his research on post-national identity in Europe, Anthony King has pointed out that in the case of different European championships, it is possible that the loyalty to the club is more important than the loyalty to a nation (King 2000, 2003). Accordingly, for some of my interviewees the thought of supporting the antagonist team only because the competition is happening on a supra-national level is simply unthinkable. At the same time, the temporary and contextual shifting of loyalties and rivalries is an important part of football fan culture. It can be considered an element of the ‘game’ or ‘fun’ of being a football fan or football lover. We can observe flexible fan loyalties, for example, during international tournaments between national teams and/or clubs (World Cups, European Championships or Champions League, Europa League) when one’s ‘own’ team - however one defines that - drops out or does not even participate in the competition (Szogs 2015).

 
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