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Theorising Militant Groups' Meso-Level Evolution
A Comparative Study of the Egyptian Islamic and Jihad Groups

Drevon, Jerome (2015) Theorising Militant Groups' Meso-Level Evolution
A Comparative Study of the Egyptian Islamic and Jihad Groups.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This research theorises militant groups' meso-level evolution from their emergence to their potential non-violent transformation. The central argument of this thesis is that the timing of militant groups' adoption of violence in semi-authoritarian regimes is crucial in accounting for their subsequent ideational and organisational evolution, according to a path-dependent model. When a militant group predates its legitimisation of armed violence, the time period preceding the latter encourages low-risk activism mobilising patterns, which are defined as safer modes of mobilisation that are not directly opposed by the state and therefore do not entail high individual costs. These mobilizing patterns facilitate the creation of strong horizontal ties between the group's leaders and the development of collective group identity shared by its leaders and members. These three factors collectively ease the internal legitimisation of shared horizontal and vertical organisational norms, which respectively refer to the norms uniting the leaders of the group and the norms uniting the leaders to their followers. Theses norms include the normalisation of the prerogatives of the group's leadership, an internal culture of consensus and shared decision making processes. These factors subsequently shape the group's evolution, whose possible non-violent transformation becomes contingent on the ability of its leadership to exploit external macro stimuli or internal learning processes, and to draw on the group's collective identity to internally legitimise a new strategic direction. Conversely, the second type of militant group is defined by its members' immediate engagement in high-risk activism forms of mobilisation, defined by their high individual cost caused by their intrinsically violent nature (e.g. staging a military coup). The combination of early ideational justifications of violence and its associated mobilising patterns fuel internal factionalism and hinder the legitimisation of internal norms of decision making and the consolidation of a controlled collective group identity. This mobilising pattern often sparks splits over any new tactical and strategic issues which may arise overtime, and eventually impedes the successful consensual transformation of this type of group in changing macro circumstances. This theorisation of militant groups' evolution is applied to the Egyptian Islamic and Jihad Groups. This thesis is based on a social movement theory framework. It is a qualitative small-n comparative case-study research using field research and interviews with numerous leaders and members of these two groups.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Egypt; jihad; islamist armed groups; social movement theory; civil war; political violence.
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Government and International Affairs, School of
Thesis Date:2015
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:10 Jun 2020 17:28

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