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Measuring Political Mobilization: The Distinction Between Activism and Radicalism

IdeologiesPathways to radicalisationRadicalisation

Journal of Terrorism and Political ViolenceJournal abstract

In this paper we review and extend measures of political mobilization: the increasing extremity of beliefs, feelings, and behaviors in support of inter-group conflict. Building on previous research, we introduce the Activism and Radicalism Intention Scales (ARIS). The Activism Intention Scale assesses readiness to participate in legal and non-violent political action, whereas the Radicalism Intention Scale assesses readiness to participate in illegal or violent political action. In ad-hoc samples of U.S. and Ukrainian undergraduates, and in an Internet panel survey representative of the U.S. population, Activism and Radicalism intentions formed two correlated but distinguishable dimensions. The popular “conveyor belt” metaphor of radicalization (implying that activism leads easily to radicalism and that most radicals emerge from activism) found only mixed support in our results. Discussion suggests the potential usefulness of the ARIS for learning about how individuals move from political attitudes and beliefs to political action, including political violence and terrorism.

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