İpek Ece Şener
Washington University in St. Louis
Title: “State Oppression, Activist Propaganda, and Support for Militancy”
Date: Friday, December 8th, 12.30
Abstract: Illegal militants and legal activists often co-exist within dissident movements. Why do the sympathizers of a movement support militancy given the existence of an activist organization affiliated with the movement? In this paper, I argue that state oppression of activism boosts support for militancy, whilst activist propaganda promoting peaceful means diminishes support for it. To test these expectations, I conduct a list experiment in Southeast Turkey, where the militant group PKK and the activist political party HDP garner significant support. My research design presents sympathizer individuals with treatment videos that vary in the degrees of state oppression and activist mobilizing propaganda. I further test the mechanisms driving support for militancy using pre- and post-treatment questions. Results demonstrate that state oppression against activism elicits a sense of inability to affect the political process, leading to a surge in support for militancy. Activist mobilizing propaganda boosts admiration for activist leadership, diminishing support for militancy. This paper shows that movement activists’ emphasis on struggle with non-violent means, as well as the state significantly raising the costs of peaceful means affects support for armed groups.
Bio: Ipek Ece Sener is a Ph.D. Candidate at Washington University in St. Louis. She earned her M.A. in Political Science from Sabancı University and B.A. in Political Science and International Relations from Boğaziçi University. She studies civil conflict, political violence, and quantitative political methodology. Her research looks at the way the microdynamics of civil war are connected to the international system of which they are a part. Her dissertation examines illegal militant organizations and legal activist organizations that co-exist within dissident movements. It investigates how activist actions influence the support for militancy and how state actions factor into the determinants of movement support. Another set of her projects analyzes how international actors and institutions can influence civil war dynamics and likelihood. She uses experimental, quasi-experimental and observational designs as well as text-as-data methods in her projects. Her research interests include armed group behavior, militancy recruitment, and international influences on civil conflict processes.