We’re All Behind You: The Co-Construction of Turns and Sequences-at-Cheering

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The goal of this research is to investigate sports fan cheering as a collaborative undertaking. This is primarily done by examining video data of informal cheering groups called Student Sections at intercollegiate Ice Hockey contests. Additional video and anecdotal data of spectators at other sports and audiences at other types of performance are also used to illustrate and contrast various forms of en mass collaboration in spectators. The data is addressed from an ethnomethodological perspective, using conversation analysis to break down both the instances of cheering and the sport’s play into sequences of turns to see how the turns at cheering orient to the turns at play. The analysis shows that Student Sections orient to a range of factors and interaction resources within the game and within the Section itself. This is done in order to collaborate on the performance of shared turns as a whole and to achieve proper meaning with those turns by managing their placement within the sequence of the game being watched. For the realm of interaction research this study hopes to expand the view of what can constitute a social actor beyond individuals. To this end a new form of social actor is proposed where individuals may mutually coordinate to not just talk amongst themselves but talk as one shared self, engaging as a recognizably unified actor in interactions with external actors. For sport itself a detailed understanding of cheering as a process of interaction offers a radically different approach to understanding fan participation and involvement than current studies focused on unilateral psychological factors like excitement and attachment. With new tools to investigate larger-scale interactions via EM/CA and a better understanding of the vital role interaction plays in cheering it is hoped that this research will promote greater investigation of sport as a research topic in interaction and greater use of interaction research in the management of sport.
Date of AwardAug 2018
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAnthea Irwin (Supervisor) & Catrin Rhys (Supervisor)


  • Sports
  • Crowds
  • Collaboration
  • Choral Production
  • Spectators
  • Audiences
  • Sequence Organization
  • Chanting
  • Synchronization

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