Alex Oaten

The English Defence League: A postmodern political movement?

Supervisor: Dr Peter Kerr, Professor Peter Burnham

My work seeks to examine the English Defence League (EDL) and to provide a better understanding of the movement by utilizing postmodern theoretical analysis in order to both locate the EDL movement within the current British far-right political and social scene and also to examine the changing nature of contemporary political action and engagement. By drawing on a variety of postmodern approaches to form an understanding of the EDL as a ‘postmodern political movement’ it is hoped that this work will help to demonstrate the contribution that postmodern theory can bring to political sociology.

Qualitative research will form the base of this study and will be centred on examining the ‘online reality’ that the EDL creates. As a movement it is organised via the internet where members communicate political messages, arrange ‘demonstrations’ and consume the outgoing transmissions that the EDL leadership create. Discourse analysis of these outgoing transmissions will attempt to examine their strategic/emotional direction and temporal reach.

Throughout this study the works of ‘postmodern’ authors, specifically Michel Maffesoli and Jean Baudrillard will be used in order to understand the EDL and to draw attention to a new style of political action in which the political ‘arena’ shifts and gives way to a more fluid and fragmented political ‘process’.


Alex completed his degree in Political Science at The University of Birmingham in 2010 before moving to Keele University and pursuing an interdisciplinary M.A. in both the Sociology and Humanities Departments. Gaining a distinction and conducting an ethnographic study of the English Defence League as his primary research. Alex has also worked with a free-lance journalist covering the 2010 British General Election. He began his PhD in October 2011.


  • Political Science (B.A. Hons) University of Birmingham
  • Globalisation, Media and Culture (M.A. with Distinction) Keele University

Research interests

  • Far Right Politics 
  • Political Movements 
  • Postmodern approaches to the political 
  • Nationalism 
  • Qualitative research strategies 
  • Definitions of the ‘political’ 
  • New Media Technologies (their relationship to political engagement)

Teaching responsibilities

  • POLS 209- British Politics (Second Year Undergraduate)

Professional memberships

  • Political Studies Association

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