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Understanding Extreme Violent Behaviour in Ultra Firms: Exploring Identity Fusion from a Dialogical Perspective

Extremism
Qualitative
Narratives
Activism
Empirical
Raquel da Silva
University of Birmingham
Raquel da Silva
University of Birmingham
Pablo Fernández-Navarro
University of Minho
Miguel Gonçalves
University of Minho
Joana R. Silva
Portucalense University
Catarina Rosa
Universidade de Aveiro

Abstract

This paper explores a dialogical operationalization of identity fusion in the context of football firms. An in-depth life story interview with a longstanding member of a football firm involved in several violent episodes was qualitatively analyzed. The variety of positions of the self (I-positions) as well as the dialogical relations established by such positions were examined under themes associated with identity fusion, in an attempt to understand pro-group radical violent behaviour. Results suggest that a core coalition of internal I-positions and external We-positions favouring extreme ultra violence appeared to dominate the participant’s self-system. This coalition seemed to have soft boundaries among the positions compounding it and, at the same time, rigid boundaries with other positions of the self-system, operating as an I-prison, preventing alternative counter-violence voices to be heard and promoter or meta-positions to emerge. Considering that functionally equivalent forms of identity fusion have been identified in radical football violence and terrorism, this knowledge can contribute to tackle the pathways for engaging in extreme violence in favour of a group/organization and develop more effective programs to promote individuals’ de-fusion from different groups, whenever group adherence proves dysfunctional and risky for themselves and/or others.