Though football increasingly attracts the attention of cultural historians, sociologists and social scientists more generally, research to date has focused largely on the elite professional game. Those who participate at lower levels – from non-elite semi-professionals or elite amateurs to those for whom the game is essentially a form of recreation and/or community engagement – have been largely neglected. The intention of this international network is to begin redressing this imbalance by bringing together researchers to explore the relevance of grassroots football in its different contexts and forms played by men and women as it is experienced in distinctive national contexts and to make comparisons with a view to generating productive insights.
‘Small Worlds’ was established by a group of German, British and Irish scholars in 2015 to facilitate research into football as experienced at the grassroots across Europe.
The principal aim of this group is to establish new views on football using a comparative perspective. It will focus on different codes of football, played by the many rather than the few and, especially, explore their role in defining, building and sustaining local communities.
At the same time, the importance of wider national, transnational and global contexts will also be acknowledged. Indeed, the current preoccupation with glocalization as a response to globalization helps to provide an underpinning rationale and the largely unexplored relationship between grassroots and elite professional football will be also be examined.
Research perspectives derived from history, sociology and other social science disciplines will be embraced. The intention is to establish a discursive framework that will facilitate and encourage transnational and interdisciplinary research and foster innovative approaches more generally.