Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)


Modern Languages and Literatures


Robin Ellis

Committee Members

Robert Leventhal

Jaclyn Moloney

Robin Ellis


This thesis analyzes Germany’s far-left and far-right football subcultures and how their expressions are shaped by Germany’s laws, policies, and social taboos. After World War II, Germany’s efforts to overcome or to work through its history of political extremism and authoritarian governments (Vergangenheitsbewältigung/Vergangenheitsaufarbeitung) has resulted in laws and policies intended to restore Germany’s national image, protect democratic institutions, and prevent another mass atrocity like the Holocaust. These laws are against political extremism as a whole, including left-wing political extremism, but many of these laws are aimed at restricting far-right political extremism de jure because they address hate speech. However, despite these restrictions, Germany has one of the highest rates of violent far-right extremism in Europe. One of the reasons for this is that the far-right has been able to express hateful sentiments, recruit, and communicate with one another through utilizing what author and professor Cynthia Miller-Idriss refers to as “game-playing” with the restrictions set in place. For decades, football has been used as a tool for expressing political sentiments and political recruitment. Using journalistic articles, academic analyses, and written narratives in conjunction with legal texts and commentary, this thesis expands on Miller-Idriss’s work and analyzes how far-left and far-right football fans respectively game-play with Germany’s laws and policies addressing political extremism through utilizing cultural objects and collective actions like banners, stickers, clothing, and chants. This thesis reaches the conclusion that these cultural objects and collective actions are enabling unique, complex routes of politically-oriented expression in Germany.