Professionalization of a nonstate actor: a case study of the provisional IRA

Patrick Finnegan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Can nonstate militants professionalize? That is the core question of this piece. Discussions of professionalism have spread to the state military from civilian professions such as education, medicine, and law. This piece examines whether nonstate actors exhibit the same fundamental processes found within these state-based organizations. These fundamentals are the creation of a recognized internal ethos, which acts as a collective standard for those involved. A commitment to expertise and the punishment of those who do not reach these collective expectations reinforce this ethos. To answer this question, this piece examines the development of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) during the Troubles. It highlights consistencies and inconsistencies with traditional forces and argues that groups like the PIRA can professionalize and increase their effectiveness in doing so. This widens the field of professionalism studies and provides an additional lens through which to examine nonstate groups.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-367
JournalArmed Forces & Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


Dive into the research topics of 'Professionalization of a nonstate actor: a case study of the provisional IRA'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this