Accepted paper:

World going one way, people another: ultras football gangs survival networks and clientelism in post-socialist Romania

Authors:

Dinu Guțu (National school of political and administrative studies Bucharest)

Paper short abstract:

The ultras brigades formed in full transition Romania are nothing but specific survival networks of that period. These groups that embodied neighborhood gangs used football as a pretext for meeting and leisure, while at the same time extending kinship networks and economic exchanges.

Paper long abstract:

The post-socialist transition in Romania can be understood through the shift from moral communities into networks of influence, on the one hand and networks of survival on the other. Additionally, central institutions no longer had authority to the periphery. Local and regional elites had reorganized into multiple networks of influence which have acted independently from the center (Nazpary: 2002). A significant element of this process was the dismantling of the welfare state. The hypothesis of this paper is that some of the ultras' brigades formed in full transition Romania are nothing but specific survival networks of that period. For more than ten years these groups that embodied neighborhood gangs used football as a pretext for meeting and leisure, while at the same time extending kinship networks and economic exchanges. This paper analyzes from an ethnographic perspective for over seven years, the manner in which these football fans networks have developed in a state with weak or under consolidated institutions, where informal relations are strong and well consolidated. The insights portray the clientelistic dimension of these networks and how resources are distributed, as well as the interdependencies between the leader and the rest of the members of the group.

panel P010
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