DISCOURSE AND EMOTION IN SUSTAINING VIOLENT SOCIAL MOVEMENTS DURING MILITARY OCCUPATIONS: IRAQ, NORTHERN IRELAND, AND THE PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES
Sargsyan, Irena L.
Why do violent social movements rise or fail during military occupations? How are some leaders able to overcome the problem of collective action and sustain violent campaigns that require voluntary, risky actions, but others are not? Why are only some leaders effective in achieving political objectives through sustained collective violence? In Iraq (2003–11), how was Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Sadrist Trend, able to muster a violent militia and vast popular support and thereby become a potent political player? Why did the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq fail to maintain its influence, and why did Al Qaeda in Iraq gain and then lose the ability to mobilize violence in the same period? Similarly puzzling variations in the outcomes of violent collective action have been observed elsewhere. In Northern Ireland (1969–98), how did the Provisional Irish Republican Army outstrip the Official Irish Republican Army in sustaining collective violence? In the Palestinian territories (1987–2015), how did Hamas defeat its established rival Fatah and transform itself into a highly organized political and social movement with a capacity for lethal terrorism? I argue that favorable microstructural conditions and emotional appeals from credible leaders with legitimacy among domestic audiences are necessary and jointly sufficient to sustain violent collective action. It is the interaction of discursive psychological variables and microstructural conditions through emotional mechanisms that enables only some leaders to sustain what I term violent social movements, or VSMs. I develop a middle-range theory of VSMs, using the methods of case- and mechanism-oriented comparisons, within-case process-tracing, discourse analysis, and archival research, while also drawing on my fieldwork in Iraq, Israel, Northern Ireland, and the Palestinian territories.
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