On urban crisis and a culture of exile: youth, football and the politics of masculine patronage in Accra, Ghana

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Departing from scholarly assertions of a ‘crisis’ of male personhood across urban West Africa, this paper explores the contemporary meaning and import of football vis-à-vis the volatile political and economic transformation of neoliberal Ghana, and the marginal predicament of a male youth citizenry deprived of viable modes of sustainable urban livelihood. I ask of how the game of football is implicated in the virile forging of personal biography amidst this unfolding postcolonial history, and in a moment when expectations of future are shadowed by soaring rates of unemployment, ever-receding labor opportunities, and a radical decline in the institution of marriage. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork within a makeshift training camp on the impoverished peripheries of Accra, I examine how male youth construct and re-imagine their future in and through the ‘global game’, offering a nuanced angle of vision onto how they have appropriated the game of football in their attempts to live productively through the fractured, crisis-ridden conditions of the African postcolony – in propagating novel forms masculine sociality and, ultimately, in striving to enact alternative modes of becoming mobile amid the marginal cityscapes of West Africa today. My theoretical reflections are particularly concerned with how proliferating forms of social dependency and patronage have not only re-emerged as vital sources of urban masculine sociality, but which also increasingly contour – and even govern – the migratory journeys and trajectories of male youth footballers out of West Africa towards Europe
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2016
EventEuropean Association for Sociology of Sport: Sport in the City - Mobility, Urbanity and Social Change - Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports and Biocenter, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 4 May 20167 May 2016


ConferenceEuropean Association for Sociology of Sport
Abbreviated titleEASS
Internet address


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