The cult of the victim: an analysis of the collective identity of the English Defence League

Oaten, Alexander (2014) The cult of the victim: an analysis of the collective identity of the English Defence League. Patterns of Prejudice, 48 (4). pp. 331-349. ISSN ISSN

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Since its creation in 2009 the English Defence League has become the largest street-based social movement in contemporary Britain. Its demonstrations have led to violence and community tensions in town and city centres throughout the country. While these street demonstrations have attracted some attention in academia, as of yet there has been no attempt to analyse the statements of the EDL as an organization. Oaten analyses the EDL's outgoing communicative transmissions and argues that the EDL as a movement is based on a sense of collective victimhood. By drawing on conceptions of collective victimhood from post-conflict studies, he suggests that only by understanding the EDL's collective victimhood can we understand its anti-Muslim and anti-establishment stance. His article stresses that collective victimhood is a zero sum identity, and highlights the fact that, as such, the EDL and its members continuously seek to portray themselves as the ‘true’ victims of abuse by government and British Muslims. Oaten concludes, in light of EDL leader Tommy Robinson's departure, by looking at the potential future trajectories of the EDL. He argues that, despite the fact that Robinson was central to the movement's collective victimhood frame of reference, the EDL continues to utilize the collective victimhood narrative in order to explain Robinson's departure. This suggests that collective victimhood had become a powerful category of self-identification for the movement, and that the movement can continue without Robinson.

Keywords:Collective Victimhood, Discourse analysis, English Defence League, far right politics, Social movement
Subjects:L Social studies > L200 Politics
L Social studies > L300 Sociology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Social & Political Sciences
ID Code:44028
Deposited On:24 Feb 2021 11:25

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