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The making of an insurgent group: a case study of Hamas, vox populi and violent resistance

Davis, Richard (2014) The making of an insurgent group: a case study of Hamas, vox populi and violent resistance. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Abstract

The critical gap in scholarship on power-seeking insurgent groups is to understand whether those groups adapt violent expression as a function of popular support. If such a relationship does exist, how does it work and under what conditions do violent acts increase or decrease? To understand these questions, one must understand that the ideals that make up power-seeking insurgent groups are malleable, requiring stratagem and guile in the face of internal and external violent and non-violent influence. To sustain the capacity to project violence, a power-seeking insurgent group must maintain the support of a significant portion of its host population. Without the populace’s tolerance or acceptance of violence, this agenda would not be supported over time. This reality creates a dynamic between the insurgent group and its host population, which is bi-directional, and creates profound implications for the nature of violent expression and is largely based upon environmental conditions. This research delves into these questions about insurgent groups by developing a case study on the power-seeking insurgent group Hamas and its host population, the Palestinian people. The empirical examination begins with the group’s formation in 1987 (and refers to foundations much earlier) and ends with the events of June 2014. During this period, the group, like other insurgent groups, has been suspended between its quest to achieve the values of its ardent supporters and the desire to grow popular support. By slightly modifying Max Weber’s theoretical premise that political groups must balance values with responsibilities, we can better understand how Hamas has managed the tension between supporters who demand continued violence against Israel and those that do not. With newly assembled datasets constructed by the author on Hamas’s violent acts and public statements, Israeli Targeted Killings, historical measures of popular support and extensive field interviews, the thesis offers a unique theoretical perspective on the nature of insurgent group violence by demonstrating under what conditions the group exercises violent resistance or refrains from doing so. For example, the research shows that Hamas violence against Israel follows Palestinians’ support for violence, countering the commonly held idea that Hamas acts as a vanguard of the Palestinian people. It also shows that the nature and method of Hamas violence against Israel changed once it had territorial control of Gaza. Finally, the methodological approach used in this case study can serve as a model to better understand the origins and dynamics of powerseeking insurgent groups elsewhere.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2014 Richard Davis
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > Government
Supervisor: Hughes, James
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/951

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