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Bouncers: violence and governance in the night-time economy

Bouncers: violence and governance in the night-time economy

Hobbs, Dick, 1951-

This text is an attempt to understand Britain's night-time economy, the violence that pervades it, and the bouncers whose job it is to prevent it. Britain's rapidly expanding night-life is one of the countries most vibrant economic spheres, but it has created huge problems of violence and disorder

eBook, Electronic resource, Book. English.
Published Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005
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Statement of responsibility: Dick Hobbs ... [et al.]
ISBN: 0191700487, 9780191700484, 9780199288007
Note: Originally published: 2003.
Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Note: Description based on print version record.
Physical Description: 1 online resource (ix, 323 p.).
Series: Clarendon studies in criminology
Subject: Violence Great Britain.; Bouncers Great Britain.
Series Title: Clarendon studies in criminology.


  1. Let the Good Times Roll: Liminality and the Night-Time Economy
  2. After-Dark 'Fun' and its Control in the Industrial City
  3. Post-Industrial Manchester: From Cotton to Carlsberg
  4. Tommy Smith's Story: Four Decades on the Door
  5. A Word at the Door: Bouncers On Their Work
  6. Manners Maketh the Man: Licensing 'Door Supervisors' and the Discourses of Professionalism and Safety
  7. Market Force: Class, Violence, and Liminal Buiness on the Night-Time Frontier
  8. Night Futures: The Marketization of License and Control
  9. Big People, Dirty Work; A Conclusion

Author note

Dick Hobbs is Professor of Sociology at the University of Durham. He has published widely on various aspects of criminal cultures, policing, research methods, professional and organised crime, and the night-time economy. He has published edited collections of papers on ethnographic research, and professional crime, and his two single authored books (both published with OUP) are Doing the Business (1988) which won the Abrams Prize, and Bad Business (1995). He was,

with Steve Hall, the co-grant holder for the ESRC "Bouncers" project

Philip Hadfield is currently an ESRC funded postgraduate student at the University of Durham. He recently graduated from the Universities of Keele and Cambridge, has published widely on regulatory and licensing aspects of the night-time economy and works part time as a DJ.

Stuart Lister is a Research Fellow at the University of Leeds. He is a member of the Home office Alcohol and Crime Steering Group, and has published on various aspects of the night-time economy with particular reference to policing, regulation, and training.

Simon Winlow is Senior Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Teesside. He gained his Ph.D. from Durham University in 1999 and has published on crime, masculinities, research methods and various aspects of the night-time economy. His first book, Badfellas,(Berg 2001)an ethnography based upon his Ph.D


In recent years, the expansion of night-time leisure has emerged as a key indicator of post-industrial urban prosperity, attracting investment, creating employment and re-generating the built environment.

These leisure economies are youth-dominated, focusing upon the sale and consumption of alcohol. Unprecedented numbers of young people now flock to town centres that are crammed with bars, pubs and clubs, and the resulting violent disorder has over run police resources that remain geared to the drinking patterns and alcohol cultures of previous generations.

Post-industrial re-structuring has spawned an increasingly complex mass of night-time leisure options through which numerous licit and illicit commercial opportunities flow. Yet, regardless of the fashionable and romantic notions of many contemporary urban theorists, it is alcohol, mass intoxication and profit rather than 'cultural regeneration,' which lies at the heart of this rapidly expanding dimension of post-industrial urbanism.

Private security in the bulky form of bouncers fills the void left by the public police. These men (only 7% are women), whose activities are barely regulated by the State, are dominated by a powerful subculture rooted in routine violence and intimidation. Using ethnography, participant observation and extensive interviews with all the main players, this controversial book charts the emergence of the bouncer as one of the most graphic symbols in the iconography of post industrial



Review from previous edition Hobbs is without doubt Britain's most insightful and penetrating criminological ethnographer, and he uses his skill to provide an extremely useful advice to all interested academics and students is to get a copy, read it, and keep it as a principal guide book to take with you on your theoretical excursions into the subject of professional crime.
International Journal of Sociology and Law||His book contains the thrills of voyeuristic participation in a world of almost untramelled opportunities for hedonistic pleasure, with the frisson of realisation that burgalries and robberies are the price we pay as victims. This book conveys a fascinating if disturbing sense of the complex, messy lives of those in the bad business.
Times Literary Supplement||Dick Hobbs has succeeded at every level...this is a very good book. It is written with confidence and gusto, in a way which makes the subjects ... come to life.
New Law Journal||Dick Hobb's research has always traversed the large distance between the criminal and the criminologist and his writing the even larger gap between the novelist and the academic. This has meant that his books are as full of characters as facts and of wry comment as dry analysis and Bouncers is no exception.
The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice||... a comprehensive account of bouncers: their occupational culture, their role in the alcohol fuelled expanding night-time economy and the failure of all strata of regulation to contain the violence which is endemic within it.
The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice||... may be read and enjoyed at a variety of levels ... may also be read with profit by those interested in richly-woven descriptions of the life of doormen, their adventures, their sense of chivalry and of 'rough justice', and the legal and extra-legal codes that govern their conduct ... a serious social study that charms and enthrals.
Law Society Journal||... a pioneering and exciting study that opens up for police researchers, criminologists, urban ethnographers and sociologists a fascinating look into the night-time economy...
Theoretical Criminology