Oslo Summer School in Comparative Social Science Studies 2017

Political Violence: A Relational Approach

Lecturers: Professor Donatella Della Porta and Assistant Professor Lorenzo Bosi
The Centre on Social Movement Studies
Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences
Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa
Italy

Main discipline: Sociology, Political Science,
Political Sociology

Dates: 24 - 28 July 2017
Course Credits: 10 pts (ECTS)
Limitation: 25 participants


Objectives
This course aims to provide a guide, to students who already have a background in social science, towards the development of an independent investigation of political violence, including its causes, forms, and consequences. Research and theorization on political violence have been growing in recent years with focus on different forms, such as riots, guerrilla warfare, insurgency, genocide and civil wars. Within a relational approach, we will focus upon comparative research and approaches that seek to understand political violence in terms of the wider political context in which actors are located.

We will refer to critical empirical cases in order to illustrate general mechanisms and processes in ethno-nationalist, social-revolutionary, right-wing, religious motivated and single issue armed groups considered within the broader politics of contention. Similarities and differences among these cases will be addressed. Looking across-geographical areas and historical periods, the various sessions will discuss course readings as well as critical background, concepts, theories, and ideas that complement the readings referring to relevant studies in sociology, political science, history, geography, anthropology and psychology.


Key books for preparation to the course

  • Bosi, Lorenzo, O’Dochartaigh, Niall and Daniela Pisoiu. 2015. Political Violence in Context. Time, Space and Milieu. ECPR PRESS.
  • Della Porta, Donatella. 2013. Clandestine Political Violence, Cambridge: Cambridge University press.
  • Tilly, Charles. 2003. The Politics of Collective Violence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Malthaner, Stefan. 2011. Mobilizing the Faithful: The Relationship between Militant Islamist Groups and their Constituencies. Frankfurt/New York: Campus.
  • Wood, Elisabeth. J. 2003. Insurgent Collective Action and Civil War in El Salvador. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Suggested further reading in general

  • Alimi, Eitan, Chares Demetriou and Lorenzo Bosi. 2015. The Dynamics of Radicalization: A Relational Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Della Porta, Donatella. 1995. Social Movements, Political Violence and the State. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • English, Richard. 2009. Terrorism: How to Respond. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Hegghammer, Thomas. 2010. Jihadism in Saudi Arabia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Viterna, Jocelyn. 2013. Women in War: The Micro-processes of Mobilization in El Salvador. New York: Oxford University Press.


COURSE OUTLINE

Monday July 24

Session 1: What is political violence? 
In this first session we will focus on conceptualization of political violence. This will be done by reviewing the main approaches in social science research on political violence, while drawing attention to key contemporary debates.

Requested readings:

  • Lorenzo Bosi and Stefan Malthaner. 2015. “Political Violence” in Donatella Della Porta and Mario Diani (eds.) Oxford Handbook of Social Movements, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
  • Donatella della Porta. 2013. Clandestine Political Violence, Cambridge: Cambridge University press. Chapter 1.
  • Tilly, Charles. 2004. “Terror, Terrorism, Terrorists” Sociological Theory 22 (1): 5-13.

Suggested further readings:

  • Bosi, Lorenzo, Niall O’Dochartaigh and Daniela Pisoiu. 2015. “Contextualizing Political Violence” in Lorenzo Bosi, Niall O’Dochartaigh and Daniela Pisoiu (eds.) Political Violence in Context. Time, Space and Milieu. ECPR Press: 1-14.
  • Goodwin, Jeff. 2009. “The Relational Approach to Terrorism” Swiss Political Science Review 15 (2): 387-94.
  • Gunning, Jeroen. 2009. “Social Movement Theory and the Study of Terrorism” pp. 156-177, in Richard Jackson, Marie Breen Smyth and Jeroen Gunning, Critical Terrorism Study: A New Research Agenda. London: Routledge.


Session 2: Relational dynamics at the onsets of riots
In this second session we will cover methodological issues informing the study of political violence. In particular, we shell address methodological practices (especially, qualitative interviews) as well as ethical issues in studying political violence and conducting fieldwork in contexts of violent conflicts.

Requested readings:

  • Donatella della Porta, With Bernard Gbikpi, The Riots: A Dynamic view, in Seraphim Seferiades and Hank Johnston (eds.), Violent Protest, Contentious Politics and the neo-liberal State, Farnham, Ashgate, 2012, pp. 87-102.
  • Thompson, E. P., 1971, "The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the Eighteenth Century." Past and Present 50, 76–136.

Suggested further reading:

  • Auyero, Javier, 2007, Routine Politics and Violence in Argentina. The Gray Zone of State Power, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.


Tuesday July 25

Session 3: Relational dynamics at the onsets of civil war
In the third session, we aim at expanding the reflection on causal mechanisms of political violence by addressing literature on civil wars. Going beyond roots-causes, we will single out the contribution of a relational approach to the field.

Requested readings:

  • della Porta, Donatella, Forthcoming. Civil Wars. Routledge. Chapter 1 and 2.
  • Wood, Elisabeth. J. 2003. Insurgent Collective Action and Civil War in El Salvador. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chapters 1, 8.

Suggested further reading:

  • Kalivas, Stathis. 2006. The Logics of Violence in Civil War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
     

Session 4: Relational dynamics at the onset of clandestine political violence
The fourth session will address the interaction between contentious politics actors and the state in the process of conflict escalation. The policing of protest will be considered as an important barometer of the attitudes of the elites toward challengers.

Requested reading:

  • della Porta, Donatella. Clandestine Political Violence, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013, chapter 2, 3.

Suggested further reading:

  • McCauley, Clark and Sophia Moskalensko. (2011). Friction: How Radicalization Happens to Them and Us. New York: Oxford University Press.


Wednesday July 26

Session 5: The emergence of armed groups
The fifth session will address the emergence of armed groups, their justification of the choice of violent repertoires of action within the social construction of political conditions and the definition of the organizational goals. It will look at the key role played by relational dynamics among various actors involved in context.

Requested readings:

  • Alimi, Eitan, Chares Demetriou and Lorenzo Bosi. 2015. The Dynamics of Radicalization: A Relational Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Chapter 3.
  • Della Porta, Donatella. (1995). Social Movements, Political Violence and the State. New York: Cambridge University Press. Chapter 4

Suggested further reading:

  • White, Robert W. (1993). Provisional Irish Republicans: An Oral and Interpretive History. Westport, CT:Greenwood Press.
     

Session 6: Joining Political Violence
In our sixth session we will look at how individuals join armed groups. We will consider variation among those who join armed groups in terms of different paths of mobilization as well as the nature of their participation in the armed group. We will situate individuals in their organizational and social context.

Requested readings:

  • Bosi, Lorenzo and Donatella Della Porta. (2012) “Micro-mobilization into armed groups: the ideological, instrumental and solidaristic paths” Qualitative Sociology, 35: 361-383.
  • Horgan, John. (2008). “From profiles to pathways and roots to routes: Perspectives from psychology on radicalization into terrorism.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (618): 80–94.
  • Parkinson, Sarah Elizabeth. 2013. “Organizing Rebellion: Rethinking High-Risk Mobilization and Social Networks in War” American Political Science Review, 107 (3): 418-432.

Suggested further readings:

  • Bosi, Lorenzo. 2012. “Explaining Pathways to armed Activism in the Provisional IRA, 1969-1972”. Social Science History, 36 (3): 347-390.
  • Horgan, John. (2005). The Psychology of Terrorism. London: Routledge.
  • della Porta, D. (1992a) “Biographies of social movement activists: State of the art and methodological problems,” in M. Diani and R. Eyerman (eds.) Studying Collective Action. Newbury Park, CA: Sage: 168–93.
  • Luft, Aliza. 2015. “Toward a Dynamic Theory of Action at the Micro Level of Genocide: Killing, Desistance, and Saving in 1994 Rwanda.” Sociological Theory 33 (2): 148-172.
  • Viterna, Jocelyn. (2013). Women in War: The Micro-processes of Mobilization in El Salvador. New York: Oxford University Press.


Thursday July 27

Session 7: Political violence and space
The seventh session will focus at how processes of political violence are embedded in dynamic social settings and physical space. We will look at how armed groups’ socio-spatial relationships enable and constrain their political options, including the resort to different violent repertoires.

Requested readings:

  • Bosi, Lorenzo. 2013. “Safe Territories and Political Violence: the Persistence and Disengagement of Violent Political Organizations” Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 19 (1): 80-101.
  • Malthaner, Stefan. 2016. “Violence, Legitimacy, and Control: The Microdynamics of Support Relationships between Militant Groups and their Social Environment” Civil Wars, 17 (4): 425-445.
  • O’Dochartaigh, Niall. 2015. “Spatial Contexts for Political Violence” in Bosi, Lorenzo, O’Dochartaigh, Niall and Daniela Pisoiu. 2015. Political Violence in Context. Time, Space and Milieu. ECPR PRESS.

Suggested further readings:

  • Luis de la Calle & Ignacio Sánchez-Cuenca (2015) "How Armed Groups Fight: Territorial Control and Violent Tactics", Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 38:10, 795-813.
  • Malthaner, Stefan and Peter, Waldmann. 2014. “The Radical Milieu: Conceptualizing the Supportive Social Environment of Terrorist Groups” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 37 (12): 979-998.
  • Sewell, William. 2001. “Space in Contentious Politics.” Pp. 51-88 in Silence and Voice in the Study of Contentious Politics, edited by Roland R. Amizade, Jack A. Goldstone, Doug McAdam, Elizabeth Perry, William H. Sewell, Sidney Tarrow, and Charles Tilly. New York: Cambridge University Press.
     

Session 8: Exiting political violence
Our eight session will investigate how and when armed groups and individuals disengage from political violence. We will focus here on the reverse of mechanisms that had fuelled militarization, reflecting on counterterrorist policies but also at internal dynamics towards the deactivation of militant networks in armed groups.

Requested readings:

  • Bosi, Lorenzo and Donatella Della Porta. 2015. “Processes of Disengagement from Political Armed Activism: A multilevel relational approach”, (co-authored with Prof. Donatella Della Porta), in Tellidis, Ioannis and Toros, Harmonie (eds.), Researching Terrorism, Peace and Conflict Studies: Interaction, Synthesis and Opposition. Abingdon: Routledge, 81-99.
  • Dudouet, Veronique. 2013. Dynamics and factors of transition from armed struggle to nonviolent resistance. Journal of Peace Research, 50 (3): 401-413.
  • Björgo, Tore and John Horgan (eds). 2009. Leaving Terrorism Behind. Individual and collective disengagement. London and New York : Routledge. Chapter 1.

Suggested further readings:

  • Donatella della Porta, Clandestine Political Violence, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013, chapter 8.
  • Fillieule, O. 2014. “Disengagement from radical organizations. A Process and Multi Level Model of Analysis” in B. Klandermans, C. van Stralen, Movements in times of transition, Minnesota, University of Minnesota Press.
  • Horgan, John. 2009. Walking Away from Terrorism: Accounts of Disengagement from Radical and Extremist Movements, New York: Routledge.


Friday July 28

Session 9: Impact of Political Violence
The ninth session will look at how political violence matters. First we will underline the variety of potential outcomes of armed groups’ violent repertoires. We will then focus on the biographical outcomes of former armed activists.

Requested readings:

  • Bosi, Lorenzo. 2016. "Social Movements Interrelated Effects: the Process of Social Change in the post-movement life of Provisional IRA Volunteers". Revista Internacional de Sociología, 74 (4): 1-11.
  • English, Richard. 2016. Does Terrorism Work? A History. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Chapter Introduction.
  • Viterna, Jocelyn. 2013. Women in War: The Micro-processes of Mobilization in El Salvador. New York: Oxford University Press. Chapter 8.

Suggested further readings:

  • Abrahms, Max. 2006. “Why Terrorism Does Not Work.” International Security 31: 42-78.
  • Blee, Kathleen. 2016. "Personal Effects from Far-Right Activism " in The Consequences of Social Movements: People, Policies, and Institutions, edited by Lorenzo Bosi, Marco Giugni, and Katrin Uba. New York: Oxford University Press, 66-84.
  • Bosi, Lorenzo and Marco Giugni. 2012. “Political Violence Outcomes: A Contentious Politics Approach” Mobilization 18 (1): 85-98.
  • Shirlow, Peter, Jon Tonge, James McAuley and Catherine McGlynn. 2010. Abandoning historical conflict? Former political prisoners and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
  • Marsden, Sarah. forthcoming. “Successful Terrorism: Framework and Review.” Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression.
     

Session 10: How should we investigate political violence? Interviewing armed militants.
In this last session we will cover methodological issues informing the study of political violence. In particular, we shall address qualitative interviews as well as ethical issues in studying political violence and conducting fieldwork in contexts of violent conflicts.

Requested readings:

  • Blee, Kathleen. 1993. "Evidence, Empathy, and Ethics: Lessons from Oral Histories of the Klan", The Journal of American History, 80 (2): 596-606.
  • Della Porta, Donatella. 2014. “Life Histories.” in Della Porta (eds.) Methodological Practices in Social Movement Research. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 262-288.
  • Malthaner, Stefan. 2014. “Fieldwork in the Context of Violent Conflict and Authoritarian Regimes” in Della Porta (eds.) Methodological Practices in Social Movement Research. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 173-194.

Suggested further readings:

  • Bosi, Lorenzo and Herbert Reiter. 2014. “Historical Methodologies: Archival Research and Oral History in Social Movement Research” in Donatella Della Porta (eds.) Methodological Practices in Social Movement Research. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 117-143.
  • Brannan, D., P. Esler, and A. Strindberg (2001) “Talking to ‘terrorists’: Towards an independent analytical framework for the study of violent substate activism.” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 24 (1): 3–24.
  • Horgan, John. “Interviewing terrorists: A case for primary research,” in C. Hsinchun, E. Reid, J. Sinai, A. Silke, and B. Ganor (eds.) Terrorism Informatics. New York: Springer: 73–99.
  • White, Robert. (2007. “‘I’m not too sure what I told you the last time’: Methodological notes on accounts from high- risk activists in the Irish Republican movement.” Mobilization 12 (3): 287–305.
  • Wood, Elisabeth. 2006. “The ethical challenges of field research in conflict zones.” Qualitative Sociology 29 (3): 373–86.


The lecturers
Professor Donatella Della Porta is Dean of the Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Scuola Normale Superiore, where she directs the Center on Social Movement Studies (Cosmos). She also directs a major ERC project Mobilizing for Democracy, on civil society participation in democratization processes in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America.

Dr. Lorenzo Bosi is Assistant Professor at the Scuola Normale Superiore (SNS) and Research Felllow within COSMOS. His main research interests are in political sociology and historical sociology where his studies primarily focus on qualitative research of social movements and political violence. He is mainly interested in how and when contentious political actors shift forms actions across time and space and their impacts.

Tags: Political Science, Sociology, Summer School, PhD, Political Violence, Social Movements
Published Nov. 2, 2016 8:28 AM - Last modified Aug. 14, 2017 1:07 PM