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Title: Jihadist radicalisation in the United States : testing a model of new religious movement conversion
Author: Kleinmann, Scott Matthew
ISNI:       0000 0004 7656 446X
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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There is no consensus regarding the causes of radicalisation. Some scholars argue that the failure to understand the phenomenon stems from poorly developed theoretical models. Given the shortcomings of radicalisation theories, a few scholars from the terrorism studies and social psychology of religion disciplines posit that religious conversion theories might be better suited than radicalisation models to explain why people join the jihadist movement. Specifically, these scholars hypothesise that the well-known New Religious Movement conversion theory—Lofland and Stark’s ‘World Saver’ model—might be applicable to radicalisation. This thesis tests asks the question: What causes radicalisation? More specifically, it asks: can the ‘World Saver’ model can account for radicalisation to jihadism? The study uses a two-phase mixed methods approach to answer this question. Phase-one is a qualitative, exploratory study which examines the backgrounds and experiences of six Al Qaeda-linked participants to determine if they are congruent with the model’s seven conditions. Phase-two builds on these exploratory findings with a quantitative study of 160 Muslims living in the US general population. Phase-two evaluates the participants’ scores on instruments that measure the conditions of the ‘World Saver’ model, their perceptions about the role of jihad in Islam, and their willingness to participate in illegal, violent political action and legal, non-violent political activism. This thesis also explores the overrepresentation of Muslim converts in jihadism by comparing convert and non-convert participants. The primary findings suggest that ‘World Saver’ is a valid model of behavioral radicalism, in that it predicts willingness to participate in illegal, violent political action. However, there is not a significant relationship between experiencing the model’s conditions and holding a militant interpretation of jihad. Therefore, Lofland and Stark’s model is not a valid model of cognitive radicalism. The analysis also finds that being a Muslim convert is not a significant predictor of behavioral or cognitive radicalism.
Supervisor: Bew, John Patrick Arthur ; Verdirame, Guglielmo ; Verdirame, Guglielmo Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available