Hilary Pilkington
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Tommy Robinson's barmy army?
The past, present and future of the English Defence League

This chapter provides an overview of the origins, trajectory and structure of the EDL as an organisation. It considers key moments in its founding and development and considers what the future holds as the movement tries to stabilise and rebuild following the resignation of its co-founders and leaders in 2013. It outlines the formal structure of the organisation and uses ethnographic data to understand how the movement is experienced organisationally by its grassroots members. This reveals a picture far from that of a closed, disciplined and hierarchically structured organisation led by a strong and charismatic leader normally ascribed to ‘far right’ movements. The chapter also discusses the acute reflexive engagement of the movement with its own representation. It is shown that frustration at negative or absent mainstream media exposure is partially compensated by the extensive use of social media but that there is also widespread scepticism about the latter, which is experienced often negatively – as a site of internal dispute and external threat.

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Loud and proud

Passion and politics in the English Defence League


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