We’re the Real Activists: Repression and the Dissident Republican Identity

Master's Thesis


Social movements literature views repression as a barrier to movement mobilization and success. While it is acknowledged that repression can energize activism short-term, we still don’t quite know how mobilization be sustained by unsuccessful movements over decades. In this paper, data assembled from participant observation and interviews with key informants from a social movement organization in Northern Ireland demonstrate how repression affects the everyday lives of activists. Findings indicate that activist identities are made salient both by acts of repression and a consistently looming threat of repression. Repression invigorates identity but drains scarce movement resources. To make up for resource loss, movements enact protests and ceremonies to recoup. This paper contributes a process of identity, repression, and resources that sustains activist identity and movement participation in the long-term without movement success, hinting that movements can be reliant upon state repression.


Attribute NameValues
Author Shawn Andrew Kern
Contributor Kraig Beyerlein, Research Director
Degree Level Master's Thesis
Degree Discipline Sociology
Degree Name Master of Arts
Banner Code
  • MA-SOC

Defense Date
  • 2019-06-14

Submission Date 2019-11-27
Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units
Catalog Record


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