The emergence, or resurgence, of radical political groups invariably provokes a struggle between activists, academics, commentators and policymakers over the particular configuration of nouns and adjectives that best correspond to the group in question. While such debates are an integral part of political practice, scrutiny of the claims made within these debates reveals significant limitations in standard strategies of description – most notably their inability to satisfactorily render either the essential cultural messiness and dynamism of contentious politics or the intersections between the so-called extreme and mainstream. We propose an alternative, albeit not mutually exclusive, strategy of description. This entails mapping what we call the micro moral worlds of contentious politics – the patchwork of intersubjective contexts of belief and behavior through which activism takes place. We illustrate this with two empirical cases: The English Defence League in Britain, and Republican Sinn Fein in Ireland.
- social movements