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The missing politics of muscular liberalism

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jan Dobbernack



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Routledge, 2018.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


The article examines the idea of muscular liberalism, first invoked by David Cameron as a paradigm of assertive policymaking in opposition to ‘state multiculturalism’. The rhetoric of muscular liberalism is present across western Europe, but its political effects have not been convincingly explored. In scholarship on ethnic minority integration, a ‘stimulus–response model’ credits Muslim intransigence as the trigger for the muscular stance. Other commentators put muscular liberalism into a genealogical perspective but do little to consider the circumstances of its political deployment. Working towards an alternative account, the article examines two instances of muscular liberalism in Britain: the campaign against ‘Sharia Courts’ and the ‘Trojan Horse’ affair. Different from the concern with historical continuity or stable potentials of liberal normativity, it draws attention to political operations and strategic calculations that characterize the deployment of muscular liberalism in British politics.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Dobbernack J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Identities

Year: 2018

Volume: 25

Issue: 4

Pages: 377-396

Online publication date: 17/10/2016

Acceptance date: 15/09/2016

Date deposited: 23/01/2018

ISSN (print): 1070-289X

ISSN (electronic): 1547-3384

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/1070289X.2016.1244063


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