Dissertation Abstracts

Characteristics of a Social Milieu Inclined to Form Politically Extremist Attitudes

Author: Sherstoboiev, Vladyslav V., urocardilus@mail.ru
Department: Sociology
University: V. N. Karazin Kharkov National University, Ukraine
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Olga dm. Kutsenko
Year of completion: 2012
Language of dissertation: Russian

Keywords: political extremism , radicalization , radical milieu , construction of alternative so
Areas of Research: Political Sociology , Social Psychology , Social Classes and Social Movements

Abstract

This study looks at the sociological conditions that may help foster political extremism. It does so by considering key features of modern social milieus that support political extremism.
Specifically, we focus on a group of foreign Muslims, who are volunteers and visitors at the Islamic Cultural Center (ICC) «al-Manar», in Kharkov, Ukraine. For a number of reasons, this group experiences acculturative stress more sharply and feels the necessity of cultivating intensive close relations and group identity.
This study draws on the phenomenological constructivism of P. Berger and T. Luckmann and it uses survey-based data about Muslim migrants from abroad as well as discourse-analysis of media produced by the ICC. For these reasons, first, the participants (migrants) and their intercultural communication and adaptation (migrants) are the subjects of this study. Second, we also analyze the media produced by this Muslim organization in order to better understand how this group constructs social reality. Given that this group has been declared the most active and mobilized segment of the foreign Muslim population, we predict that these agents should reproduce corresponding «We»-identity, and form a group-based understanding of external events and of the surrounding society.
During the big religious holidays, ICC's mosque receives up to five thousand visitors while weekly Friday prayer attracts about two thousand people, who also go to male and female clubs of «al-Manar» from time to time. Consequently, the study sample includes 442 respondents interviewed between 2006 and 2009 using a semi-formalized questionnaire.
Our findings indicate that radicalism is connected with frustration, relative deprivation and acculturative stress (in the migrant’s case). All these elements create a certain level of vulnerability to agents of extremism.
This study also discusses a radical segment among foreign Muslims living in a Ukrainian city. The essential social, cultural and psychological features of this segment are defined; these features include an inclination towards social isolationism, frustration, acculturative stress, significance of group affiliation, and the perception of an “imaginary Other”.
This study about how certain groups may feel inclined towards radicalism can inform political practices of regulation of security in society. Moreover, the study's advanced methodology can be used in future studies about political extremism.

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