Political Science Now

Ideology in Armed Groups

Ideology in Armed Groups

by Livia Isabella Schubiger, London School of Economics and Political Science and University of Zurich and Matthew ZelinaKing’s College London

Recent research has made important progress in illuminating the role of ideology in explaining high-risk collective action and political violence. However, many fundamental questions remain. This paper endorses a more nuanced approach to the conceptualization of armed group ideology that moves beyond the dominant focus on programmatic orientations, advocating a more concentrated effort to study intra- and inter-organizational variation instead. The authors further argue that research on ideology has tended to focus on cases with ideologies both externally intrusive and internally well institutionalized across ranks, neglecting the implications of weak ideology as a result. The article also explores the relationship between ideology and emotions, and how this relationship might help explain patterns of violence as well as outcomes such as cohesion and inter-personal trust in armed groups. Finally, it is argued that the multiple roles of ideology have not been sufficiently clarified, and that studying ideology as a main independent variable should not be exclusive or dominant focus of future work.

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PS: Political Science & Politics, Volume 50Issue 4 / October 2017, pp. 948-952