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Tainted Love: a critical analysis of participation in contemporary English patriot and loyalist movement, as exemplified by the English Defence League

Quinn, Caroline Mary (2015) Tainted Love: a critical analysis of participation in contemporary English patriot and loyalist movement, as exemplified by the English Defence League. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Approved Tainted Love CM Quinn.pdf - Final eThesis - complete (pdf)
Restricted until 1 December 2030.


When the English Defence League emerged in 2009 they were rapidly situated by British media, opponents, and academics as a far right, nationalist, proto fascist organisation – a standard manifestation of the traditional far right, motivated by racism and hate. From my first encounter with the EDL in 2009, I have situated them differently. Taking a very literal „standpoint‟ - a small Irish anarchist feminist standing on top of a large church wall in West Yorkshire - I watched the EDL emerge into the streets and recognised parallels with Ulster loyalism. In this research I argue that the EDL‟s ritualised claiming of public space, their open proclamations of pride and protectionism about identity, their particular use of symbolism, and the specific way they mobilise through denunciation of Islamic extremists and terrorists, can usefully be understood as racialized religious sectarianism. My interest lies in the exploration of the grievances and emotions that have propelled people into activism within the EDL. Through first-hand accounts I explore the complexities surrounding the intersection of dominant and non- dominant identities of EDL activists, their connection with Ulster loyalism and the creation of a racialized sectarian social movement in twenty-first century England. Much research to date has either drawn on online studies of social media used by the EDL or limited covert research. In contrast, I have engaged directly with EDL activists utilising ethnographic techniques over a fourteen month period, December 2011-January 2013. By getting down off my wall and becoming accepted as the EDL‟s visiting „lefty‟, my fieldwork was able to achieve overt observations before, during and after protests, and at meetings and social gatherings. Most critically this work draws upon in-depth interviews with thirty-two EDL activists from across England‟s nine regions. Participants include leaders, regional and local division organisers, and grass roots activists including extended work with women from the „EDL Angels‟. The research critically addresses issues of identity and belonging, loyalty to the armed forces and the motivations of women activists within this predominately male movement. Providing nuanced definitions of social movements, nationalism and patriotism, the EDL is finally located in this research as a predominantly working class English patriot social movement .Having distinct differences from the traditional far right, I argue the EDL exhibits an unambiguous racialized sectarianism that stems from emotional responses to a changing, (d)evolving England. I situate this within the context of their strong identification as „defenders‟ and explore their troubled allegiance to dominant discourses of the British state. Employing a distinctive anarchist methodological approach and critical framework, this research offers answers to why activists participate in the EDL and what informs and maintains their participation. I argue it is loyalty as much as protestation; love as much as hate.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: social movements patriotism militarization working class extremism sectarianism ontological shocks
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Sociology and Social Policy (Leeds)
Depositing User: C M Quinn
Date Deposited: 24 Nov 2015 13:44
Last Modified: 24 May 2016 09:08
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/11133

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