FREE (Football Research in an Enlarged Europe) is a collaborative and interdisciplinary research project which seeks to understand the impact of the most popular and most widely shared of all expressions of popular culture, football, on identity dynamics, perception patterns and cultural change in Europe. The project seeks to explore an apparently non-political, but fully existing sub-cultural European public space of communication: the European football scene in the largest sense.
FREE brings together researchers from nine universities in eight different European states and from a range of scholarly disciplines (including anthropology, history, international relations, political science, sociology). In a truly interdisciplinary perspective, FREE adopts different approaches to this European public space:
- it studies how collective memories of popular culture have emerged during the history of European football, what trace they have left in mutual perception patterns across the continent and the extent to which cultural commonality may grow out of historically grown diversity in the field of everyday culture;
- it carries out multi-dimensional empirical research work that is innovative both in design and scope, in order to produce new insight into the complex identity dynamics resulting from various processes of Europeanisation of football as well as strongly increased mobility over the last two decades;
- it seeks to shed light on the issues raised by the growing feminisation of the game such as gender construction and attitudes toward traditional patterns of identification;
- it will provide an in-depth analysis of changing perceptions of European approaches to football governance as a legitimacy-enhancing project and produce strategic recommendations for policy-makers and other stakeholders in this field.
Through its dissemination activities the FREE project aims at increasing awareness among citizens, stakeholders and policy-makers about the issue of cultural diversity and commonality in the field of popular culture, and its often underestimated impact on the political, economic and social dimensions of the European integration process.
FREE was successful in the 2011 call for proposals ‘The Anthropology of European Integration’ and is funded under Socio-economic Sciences & Humanities by the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7) of the European Commission for an amount of 2 433 357 € (Project reference: 290805). The project period is 1 April 2012 - 31 March 2015.