Liverpool Sectarianism

BookLiverpool Sectarianism

Liverpool Sectarianism

The Rise and Demise


April 1st, 2017

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Liverpool Sectarianism: the rise and demise is a fascinating study that considers the causes and effects of sectarianism in Liverpool, how and why sectarian tensions subsided in the city and what sectarianism was in a Liverpool context, as well as offering a definition of the term ‘sectarianism’ itself. By positioning Liverpool amongst other ‘sectarian cities’ in Britain, specifically Belfast and Glasgow, this book considers the social, political, theological, and ethnic chasm which gripped Liverpool for the best part of two centuries, building upon what has already been written in terms of the origins and development of sectarianism, but also adds new dimensions through original research and interviews. In doing, the author challenges some longstanding perceptions about the nature of Liverpool sectarianism; most notably, in its denial of the supposed association between football and sectarianism in the city. The book then assesses why sectarianism, having been so central to Liverpool life, began to fade, exploring several explanations such as secularism, slum clearance, cultural change, as well as displacement by other pastimes, notably football. In analysing the validity of these explanations, key figures in the Orange Order and the Catholic Church offer their viewpoints. Each chapter examines a different dimension of Liverpool’s divided past. Topics which feature prominently in the book are Irish immigration, Orangeism, religion, politics, racism, football, and the advance of the city’s contemporary character, specifically, the development and significance of ‘Scouse’. Ultimately, the book demonstrates how and why two competing identities (Irish Catholic and Lancastrian Protestant) developed into one overarching Scouse identity, which transcended seemingly insurmountable sectarian fault lines.


'A major academic work on the eclipse of clashing identities in urban Britain, [this book is] multi-faceted in its scope, using a tremendous amount of new research.'
Tom Gallagher

'This book is a valuable study particularly for those with an interest in the city of Liverpool, the Irish diaspora and the politics of identity.'
Terry Phillips, Irish Studies Review

'Much has been written about the history, culture and identity of Merseyside, but this book, derived from the PhD thesis of Keith Daniel Roberts, provides a valuable addition to the literature and acts as a useful corrective to some myths about the city and its people [...] Overall, this is a clearly written, informative and well-argued book that is obviously backed up by detailed research and careful referencing of sources [...] this is a valuable addition to the literature on Liverpool and the book deserves to be widely read.'
Colin Pooley, Northern History

Author Information

Keith Daniel Roberts is an independent political historian who specialises in the history of the city of Liverpool.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Figures and Tables8
1 The Rise of Sectarianism43
2 The Influence of the Orange Order72
3 Explaining the Decline of Orangeism111
4 Sectarian Dividing Lines and Post-War Slum Clearance134
5 The Diminishing Politics of Sectarianism: How Class Politics Displaced Identity Politics155
6 Ecumenism: ‘The Great Mersey Miracle’ and a Decline in Religious Observance180
7 The Transfer of Racism: Did Liverpool’s Black and Chinese Communities Become ‘New Aliens’?200
8 The Emergence of a Common Identity: The Integration of the Irish and the Harmony of ‘Merseybeat’234
9 Everton and Liverpool Football Clubs: New Gods263
Select Bibliography311