Brother, Can You Spare a Seat? Developing Recipes of Knowledge in the Ticket Scalping Subculture

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Michael Atkinson The University of Calgary

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Although deviance on and off the field have become popular topics of sociological investigation, sociologists have not studied the criminal or otherwise “deviant” roles ticket scalpers play in the cultural spectacle that is professional sport. In many ways, ticket scalpers have become a mainstay part of the backdrop upon which fans experience sporting events. As a first step in developing a sociological portrait of the social processes involved in ticket scalping, it is essential to examine how scalping is accomplished and experienced by its practitioners. This paper is intended to introduce sociologists of sport to die subculture of ticket scalpers by attending to the in-group perspectives and understandings ticket scalpers share toward their practices. Specifically, using ethnographic data collected on 54 ticket scalpers in a central Canadian city, I address how scalpers develop recipes of knowledge for their trade and how ticket scalping is accomplished as a social practice.

M. Atkinson is with the Department of Sociology at The University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4.

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