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Mapping the sacred: Understanding the move to violence in religious and non religious groups

Francis, Matthew David (2011) Mapping the sacred: Understanding the move to violence in religious and non religious groups. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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This research explores how groups make the transition from having strongly held beliefs, to having strongly held beliefs that legitimate violent action: the move to violence. Working from a number of case studies, I have produced a matrix of markers that helps us theorise about the causes of violent potentialities within groups. The case studies include Aum Shiru·ikyo, al Qaeda, the Red Army Faction as well as some non·violent counter·examples; Agonshu, Hizb ut·Tahrir in Uzbekistan and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Through analysis of their statements, I have coded data into a numbe1· of market's that aim to capture information about the sacred boundaries of these groups. These boundaries refer to the non·negotiable beliefs and values of the groups, which they use to define themselves and their 'Other', and are developed out of a neo· Durkheimian discussion of society and the sacred. Mapping these sacred boundaries helps us to understand the nature of beliefs that groups will fight to defend. Concentrating on the sacred, which I argue can be located in secular as well as religious groups, ensures that the exploration of the move to violence in 1·eligious groups is not trapped in essentialised or dismissive accounts of definitions of religion and the causative role it plays within modernity. Together, the operationalisation of the sacred and the use of markers to locate it in the statements of groups form the model- the matrix - that I have constructed for this study. There are. then. two principal outcomes from this research. The first is a set of findings coming out of the exploration of the move to violence. The second is a model which I have demonstrated in use and which I suggest can be used in future research exploring the role of the sacred in modern society.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Humanities (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.550811
Depositing User: Digitisation Studio Leeds
Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2015 11:26
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2015 13:34
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/9272

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