Dear England…. Football and the Collective Consciousness

Gareth Southgate used the sociological term ‘collective consciousness’ in his pre-Euro tournament letter to the nation, referring to the fact that he reminds the England team that they are creating collective memories and representing the entire nation every time they play a match.

And now that England have reached the final, whether or not ‘we’ win I think it’s true in a sociological sense – the England football team and the experience of the Euros this year has created a collective consciousness in England.

This is an excellent example to illustrate the continued relevance of one of the key concepts of Functionalism, suggesting that even some of these old sociological perspectives can still be applied today!

To quote from the letter:

‘There’s something I tell our players before every England game, and the reason that I repeat it is because I really believe it with all my heart.

I tell them that when you go out there, in this shirt, you have the opportunity to produce moments that people will remember forever.

You are a part of an experience that lasts in the collective consciousness of our country. 

That letter (NB it’s a great letter, well worth a read!) really oozes a sense of ‘positive nationalism’ – that goes well beyond Football – and it’s very personal – Gareth goes back to his fondest memories of football, and talks about how ‘conduct’ on an off the pitch is important, encourages the fans to be respectful, gives some advice on social media and paying no attention to the hate that can be on it – mentions his grandad and national service, it’s way beyond Football, it links football into our daily lives from a very human perspective.

It’s not just the letter – it’s the history of Gareth Southgate missing his penalty at the Euros in 1996 and this being something of a ‘redemption moment’, and the final’s at Wembly, both Boris Johnson and the Queen have sent messages of support and of course, there’s this song….

Bridging the generations.

I mean I don’t really follow football myself but even I’m getting emotional, feeling that weird feeling of getting behind the team even though I don’t really care for the game very much.

Maybe there is something behind this concept that’s still relevant today?!?

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