Kin and peer contexts and militant involvement : a narrative analysis

Copeland, Simon and Knott, Kim and Francis, Matthew (2020) Kin and peer contexts and militant involvement : a narrative analysis. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

[thumbnail of 2020CopelandPhD]
Text (2020CopelandPhD)
2020CopelandPhD.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs.

Download (2MB)


The importance of kin and peer networks in facilitating recruitment is taken for granted in existing scholarship on militant groups. Largely focused on plotting the composition of such networks, much of this work leaves a number of assumptions about the influence of these relationships unchallenged and fails to consider their impact over the entirety of individuals’ engagement in militancy. An exclusion of the voices of militants themselves also contributes to a tendency for ‘kin’ to refer only to connections underpinned by genetic ties – or links that whilst objectively measurable are nevertheless only constitutive of a narrow reading of kinship. This thesis takes an alternative approach, viewing kin and peers through the lens of contemporary anthropological understandings of ‘relatedness’, or simply how individuals create similarity between themselves and others, to explore the influence of these relationships in a more nuanced manner. To do so, a new framework for systematically applying narrative analysis to a dataset of militant autobiographies published between 1945 and 2015 is developed and employed to understand how these authors draw upon kin and peers in constructing their narrative storyworlds. In doing so, this thesis argues that the complex means by which militants constitute their kinship and the role of peer networks in shaping their personally held meanings are as significant as the practical openings these relationships provide in terms of understanding individuals’ participation, continued involvement and desistence from violence. At the same time, it also contributes valuable methodological innovations for the study of the self-accounts of those involved in political violence.

Item Type:
Thesis (PhD)
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
02 Mar 2020 15:35
Last Modified:
16 Jul 2024 05:50