Collective Emotions in Political Violence (PhD Project Clément)


6. November 2018

Thesis title: “Islamist Groups in Western Europe: The Role of Collective Emotions in Group Radicalization Processes”

Maéva Clément, 2013-2018

My doctoral research focuses on the role of narratives and emotions in radicalization processes at the group level. While emotion and narrative are both characteristic of human activity in general, they become particularly visible around political conflicts. Much like other political actors, Islamist groups tell political narratives to cast their struggle in morally, politically, culturally and esthetically appealing ways. But what happens when political actors advocate and/or engage in violence? What changes at the narrative level?

In my thesis, I show that Islamic extremist groups draw extensively on a common narrative, whose form, content, and repetitive character has made politically relevant. I argue that, through narrative activity, radicalizing groups perform, sanction and institutionalize specific collective emotions, which in turn have important consequences on the legitimation of and mobilization for political violence. However, such processes are complex and ambiguous, and not all groups perform collective emotions similarly or as intensely. These insights have important consequences for the scholarship on collective radicalization processes as well as for practitioners’ prevention work.