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Killing the Movement: How Islam Became a Rival of Ethnic Movement in Turkey, 1991–2002

Non-State Violent Actors and Social Movement Organizations

ISBN: 978-1-78714-191-9, eISBN: 978-1-78714-190-2

Publication date: 18 April 2017


Reactive groups adopt a variety of repertoires ranging from institutional resistance to violence to counter mobilizing efforts of movements. Countermovement studies provide useful insights into how violence by non-state actors can constrain social movements’ success. Few studies however considered the possibility that violence may, on the contrary, facilitate the outcomes sought by the movement. Under what conditions do political killings of movement members affect support for the movement? To answer this question, we follow the evolution of the Kurdish ethnic movement in Turkey as a movement party and track changes in the movement’s constituency in response to countermovement violence (1991–2002). The study uses an original dataset of countermovement killings by the ethnic movement’s Islamist rival, Hizbullah, across 113 districts in 13 southeastern provinces. We demonstrate that countermovement violence has non-uniform effects on electoral support for the movement party. These effects are conditional on initial movement strength: in localities with prior loyalties to the ethnic movement, Hizbullah-inflicted harm consolidates the movement party’s constituency. By contrast, countermovement violence is met with reduced support where the movement is weak and is struggling to make inroads to the community. Our findings suggest that initial preferences might play important roles in understanding movement outcomes.




We would like to thank the editor and anonymous reviewers for their invaluable comments and suggestions that improved the chapter in a substantial way. Earlier drafts of this chapter were presented at the Collective Behavior and Social Movements Workshop (2015) at Northwestern University as well as at the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting (2016) in Seattle.


Emrence, C. and Aydin, A. (2017), "Killing the Movement: How Islam Became a Rival of Ethnic Movement in Turkey, 1991–2002", Non-State Violent Actors and Social Movement Organizations (Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change, Vol. 41), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 33-67.



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