How can analysis of credibility contest help us understand where and when anti-minority activism is more likely to gain momentum?

By Joel Busher, Gareth Harris and Graham Macklin

Activism against ethnic, religious, sexual or other minorities is not an evenly-spaced challenge. Rather, at any given time, anti-minority mobilisations are likely to be more concentrated in particular cities, towns or even neighbourhoods. So why do some places become focal points for such activism at particular points in time, while other similar places do not? And what can we do to inhibit the ability of anti-minority activists to build support in any given place at any given time?

We argue that one way we can help to answer these questions is by understanding the ‘credibility contests’ in which anti-minority activists become engaged as they seek to build support. 

In what follows, we first elaborate on the idea of ‘credibility contests’ before setting out a simple framework through which to analyse these contests. We argue that one of the key strengths of this framework is that it enables us to integrate ‘supply-side’ and ‘demand-side’ explanations for the growth or decline of anti-minority activism. In doing so, it helps us to achieve a more holistic and dynamic understanding of such activism and how we might effectively respond to it.

This briefing is informed by comparative research on the trajectory of anti-minority activism in two English local authority areas,[i] as well as ongoing dialogue and engagement with local authorities across the UK and beyond.

[i] This article is based on the article ‘Chicken suits and other aspects of situated credibility contests: Explaining local trajectories of anti-minority activism’, by Joel Busher, Gareth Harris and Graham Macklin, published in Social Movement Studies, available via The article examines why one English town became a national, and even international, focal point for anti-minority activism towards the end of the 2000s while another broadly similar town, with a history of far right political ‘successes’ did not.

Read the full publication in Intervention 14-2019

Published Jan. 14, 2020 8:54 AM - Last modified Jan. 14, 2020 10:09 AM