political violence, identity, Ireland, mobilisation
This paper argues that micro-mobilization into armed activism is strongly motivated by the enactment of an identity that people already have prior to their mobilization as a way to strongly assert and emphasize individual agency in the face of major changes in the political context. Empirically, it advocates that those who joined the Provisional IRA between 1969 and 1972 did so in order to respond to a need for action by a northern nationalist community that stemmed from a perceived, alleged or actual, sense of second-class citizenship. We suggest that the importance of identity rather than ideology can also help us to explain why IRA members and former members overwhelmingly accepted the compromise peace settlement of the 1990s despite the fact that core ideological goals had not been realized. We conclude by suggesting avenues for future research outside the Irish context.