Non-State Violent Actors and Social Movement Organizations: Volume 41

Cover of Non-State Violent Actors and Social Movement Organizations

Influence, Adaptation, and Change


Table of contents

(12 chapters)


Pages i-xviii
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Section I: Non-State Actors: Influence and Adaptation in Conflict Environments


Hostile countermobilization is a crucial, yet relatively understudied, factor in radicalizing movement tactics and generating political violence. This chapter focuses on the movement–countermovement interactions between the Civil Rights Movement and the Loyalist movement in Northern Ireland to clarify the emergence and intensification of political violence in the 1968–1969 years. The interactions between the civil rights mobilization and the loyalist countermobilization created the conditions to fuel both protest-based and sectarian violence, setting the terrain for the eruption of the Troubles. Relying on quantitative data on the actors participating to contentious collective events, as well as original archival research, this chapter shows how the loyalist countermobilization activated mechanisms of object shift and tactical codependency that facilitated the emergence of radicalization in Northern Ireland.


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.


This study investigates patterns of violence employed by insurgents killing civilians living in small ethnic enclaves located in Ninewa Province, Iraq from 2003 to 2009. The ethnic minorities in these communities include: (1) Yazidis in Sinjar District, (2) Chaldo-Assyrian Christians in the Ninewa Plains and, (3) the Turkmen enclave of Tal Afar. To date, there has been little investigation into violence directed toward small ethnic enclaves during civil war, though some have suggested that ethnic enclaves might insulate civilians from violence (Kaufmann, 1996). Using fatality data from the Iraq Body Count, this study compares the patterns of insurgent violence directed toward these enclave communities to co-ethnic and mixed-ethnic communities. The experiences of the enclaves were varied – some were largely insulated from attacks – but when attacked, the average number killed was greater and more indiscriminate as compared to communities with significant Arab populations. One possible explanation for these differences is that insurgents did not regard these citizens as being “convertible,” which caused them to employ violence in a more indiscriminate manner. When insurgents did act to secure control of enclave communities, they used indiscriminate forms of violence against civilians, as compared to more selective forms of violence employed when controlling co-ethnic communities.


A growing literature links oil to conflict, particularly civil war. Greed/opportunity, grievance, and weak state arguments have been advanced to explain this relationship. This chapter builds on the literature on oil and conflict in two important ways. First, I examine a novel dependent variable, domestic terrorism. Much is known about the effect of oil on the onset, duration, and intensity of civil war, though we know surprisingly little about the potential influence of oil on smaller, more frequent forms of violence. Second, I treat oil ownership as a variable, not a constant, coding oil rents based on ownership structure. This is contrary to other related studies that assume oil is necessarily owned by the state. Using a large, cross-national sample of states from 1971 to 2007, several key findings emerge. Notably, publicly owned oil exhibits a positive effect on domestic terrorism. This positive effect dissipates, however, when political performance and state terror are controlled for. Privately owned oil, on the other hand, does not correlate with increased incidences of terror. This suggests that oil is not a curse, per se.


Contributing to the literature on movement structure in authoritarian regimes, this analysis focuses on the structure of two Iranian movements. We use a multi-method approach to analyze the organization of the student and women’s movements in Iran between 1997 and 2008. From 1997 to 2004, a reform government opened political opportunities. The period between 2005 and 2008 was characterized by increased repression. The student movement was organized during the first period as a hybrid composed of several networks linked in a federal structure. As the political context changed, the movement became less centralized. Its strategy shifted from one based in alliance with governing reformers to coalition building outside of the regime. In contrast, the women’s movement was organized as a densely linked web of noncentralized campaigns. The women’s movement overcame divisions as political opportunities closed in the mid-2000s and built a grassroots strategy during the latter part of the decade.


How can we account for patterns of mobilization undertaken by ethnic movements? What leads ethnic collectives to shift between mobilization strategies? Addressing the general lack of attention in the ethnic conflict literature to the diverse political strategies employed by ethnic minorities – particularly those in democratic and semi-democratic contexts, this chapter accounts for mobilization as developing along an institutional spectrum of ethnic contention. I argue that the internal dynamics of ethnic movements shape patterns of mobilization. Utilizing literature from new institutionalism and employing the approach advanced by the study of contentious politics, ethnic movements are theorized as developing through the interplay of three causal mechanisms, which combine to form processes of institutionalization and deinstitutionalization. The process of deinstitutionalization is explored through the case of the mobilization of the Palestinian citizens of Israel, tracing the development of the three causal mechanisms and their influence on the collective’s mobilization pattern. The chapter concludes by considering the range of movements that can be explored along the institutional spectrum.


This chapter offers a mechanism-based explanation of how single-cause oriented protest events are transformed into a mass movement where previously fragmented causes of contention come to be expressed in conjoint action. Drawing on the case of 2013 Gezi protests in Turkey, we map the protest waves and identify two mechanisms that mediate the influence of repression on mobilization of dissent. The first mechanism is the perceived nature of the cause of contention. Repression leads to scale shift (McAdam et al., 2008) in the first wave when exercised over those who protest for an issue perceived to be innocent. The second mechanism is the experience of repression. Boundary deactivation among protesters and the resulting continuity in protest activity follow scale shift in the second and third waves as experience of repression transforms perceptions of those that were previously framed as others. Our analysis relies on data collected via participant observation, in-depth interviews, and an online survey with 1,352 protesters.

Section II: Non-State Actors: Challengers and Change


Feminist legal activists in law schools developed what we call critical community tactics beginning in the late 1960s to bring about important cultural change in the legal educational arena. These feminist activists challenged the male-dominant culture and succeeded in making law schools and legal scholarship more gender inclusive. Here, we develop the critical community tactics concept and show how these tactics produce cultural products which ultimately, as they are integrated into the broader culture, change the cultural landscape. Our work then is a study of how social movement activists can bring about cultural change. The feminist legal activists’ cultural products and the integration of them into the legal academy provide evidence of feminist legal activist success in shifting the legal institutional culture. We conclude that critical community tactics provide an important means for social movement activists to bring about cultural change, and scholars examining social movement efforts in other institutional settings may benefit from considering the role of critical community tactics.


The majority of research on intersectionality and social movements has focused on agenda-setting or internal identity processes. However, little research has focused on the ways in which social movements present themselves as intersectional, particularly in recruitment, which is important for building inclusive movements. In this chapter, we begin to outline a theory of movement recruitment based around intersectional identities that draws on work on coalitional recruitment and concepts from framing. In particular, we argue that “identity bridging,” which occurs when two or more identities are linked during recruitment attempts, is a potential tool for inclusive and intersectional recruitment. We evaluate the extent to which movements engage in this style of recruitment using data on intersectional youth identities acknowledged on web-addressable advocacy spaces. Youth are at a critical moment in their identity development, and so it is especially important to engage them in ways that respect their developing intersectional identities. We find that, overall, most movement sites do not engage in identity bridging, and those that do rarely move beyond bridging the youth identities with one other aspect of identity. Based on our theory, this would help to explain why so many movements struggle with issues of inclusivity.


Pages 319-329
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Cover of Non-State Violent Actors and Social Movement Organizations
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Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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