The rise and fall of Liverpool sectarianism

Roberts, Keith
The rise and fall of Liverpool sectarianism. PhD thesis, University of Liverpool.

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The primary objective of this thesis is to identify why sectarianism has declined in Liverpool. In doing, it is necessary to identify what sectarianism was in a Liverpool context, whilst also outlining its development. In relation to this, the part played by nineteenth century Irish immigration, the Orange Order, and the Roman Catholic Church will be analysed. Although assessed, it is not the intention of this work to concentrate primarily on the sectarian violence that gripped the city, nor the complex relationship between sectarianism and politics in Liverpool: the latter having already been expertly covered by Waller (1981) and the former by Neal (1988). Nonetheless, in analysing the degeneration of denominational antagonism both the reduction in sectarian violence and the rapidity of its political disintegration will be considered. For a period spanning two centuries the sectarian divide in Liverpool soured relations between its residents. Indeed, the city’s political representatives were often elected on the basis of their ethno-religious pedigree. Politics continued to be influenced by religion until the mid-1970s. Weakening sectarianism, in the limited existing studies, is attributed largely to post-war slum clearance, but this thesis asserts that causality is much more complex. There are a range of factors that have contributed to the decline. As this thesis demonstrates, the downfall of sectarianism coincided with the creation of a collective identity; an identity based not on ethno-religious affiliations, but on a commonality, an acknowledgment that principles which united were more significant than factors which divided. Importantly, the success of the city’s two football teams, Everton FC and Liverpool FC, gave the city a new focus based upon a healthy sporting rivalry rather than sectarian vehemence. A complex interplay of secularism and ecumenism, the economic misfortunes of Liverpool and their political impact in terms of class politics, the growth of a collective city identity and the omnipotence of (non-religiously derived) football affiliations combined to diminish Liverpool’s once acute sectarian fault-line. This thesis examines how and why.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: alt_title: An investigation into the decline of sectarian antagonism on Merseyside Date: 2015-04-20 (completed)
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Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 19 Aug 2015 09:56
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2022 01:27
DOI: 10.17638/02010280