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Leaving Violence Behind: Disengaging from Politically Motivated Violence in Northern Ireland

Political PsychologyJournal abstract

This article explores the processes involved in leaving social movements or disengaging from terrorist activities by providing an analysis of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and Red Hand Commando (RHC) transformation away from politically motivated violence towards a civilian nonmilitary role. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was employed to gain an understanding of participant accounts of leaving violence behind and disengaging from terrorism. Analysis of the interview transcripts revealed the interplay of individual-, organizational-, and societal-level processes in incentivizing and obstructing disengagement from politically motivated violence. The findings resonate with other case studies exploring the processes involved in disengagement from political violence among other terror groupings across the globe. The results are discussed in relation to a number of topics, including the implementation of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) in postconflict societies, the dynamic role of collective identity in the engagement in and disengagement from politically motivated violence, and the role of prison in shaping disengagement from politically motivated violence.

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