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The Utility of Narratives for Promoting Radicalization: The Case of the Animal Liberation Front

Pathways to radicalisationRadicalisation

Dynamics of Asymmetric ConflictJournal abstract

Although terrorism scholars have begun to recognize the role of communication in the promotion of radicalization, there have been few (if any) studies to explore the radicalizing effects of specific types of communication. To redress this oversight, this study seeks to investigate one of the most prevalent types of communication used by terrorist groups – narratives. Specifically, this study features a theme analysis of narratives disseminated by a specific terrorist group, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), and a discussion of the ways in which the ALF's narrative themes may promote the adoption of beliefs, attitudes, and intentions that are consistent with the group's ideology. Results demonstrate that the ALF narratives are primarily comprised of 10 themes that may promote radicalization through identification with story characters, elicitation of emotional responses, and distinction of in-groups and out-groups. Future avenues of research, including the development of counter-narratives, are also discussed.

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