E: sd394@st-andrews.ac.uk

Thesis title

Conditions and Catalysts as the Keys to Counterinsurgency: Understanding Insurgency and Counterinsurgency Through the Lens of Social Movement Theory

Thesis Summary

This dissertation seeks to explain how insurgencies begin and end via the framework of Social Movement Theory (SMT) using the cases of Iraq and Afghanistan. The intent is to drive beyond the typical ‘lessons learned’ and research two key, understudied questions concerning insurgency dynamics. First what conditions incubate insurgencies and what catalysts drive those collectivities to violence? Second, and conversely, what conditions are necessary for an insurgency to fail and fall and what catalysts drive the dissipation of these movements’ ranks? This will be accomplished using both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Quantitatively, global broadcast communications outlets such as blogs, social network sites, and mass media will be ingested and analyzed to identify what were individuals’ perceptions of these conditions regarding insurgent and peaceful political movements. Qualitatively, individuals will be polled to directly ascertain what their perceptions of these same conditions were and how those conditions influenced their decisions regarding joining and leaving violent or peaceful political movements. Additionally, individuals will be polled to identify what events catalyzed their decisions to join or not join and to leave violent or peaceful political movements.