What rhetorics run throughout radical discourse, and why do some gain prominence over others? The scholarship on radicalism largely portrays radical discourse as opposition to powerful ideas and enemies, but radicals often evince great interest in personal and local concerns. To shed light on how radicals use and adopt rhetoric, we analyze an original corpus of more than 23,000 pages produced by Afghan radical groups between 1979 and 2001 using a novel computational abductive approach. We first identify how radicalism not only attacks dominant ideas, actors, and institutions using a rhetoric of subversion, but also how it can use a rhetoric of reversion to urge intimate transformations in morals and behavior. Next, we find evidence that radicals’ networks of support affect the rhetorical mixture they espouse, due to social ties drawing radicals into encounters with backers’ social domains. Our study advances a relational understanding of radical discourse, while also showing how a combination of computational and abductive methods can help theorize and analyze discourses of contention.
|Number of pages||28|
|Journal||American Sociological Review|
|State||Published - 1 Aug 2019|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors thank Reza Hussaini, Wasim Janjua, Majid Mohammadi, Abdul Rahim, and many others in Afghanistan and Pakistan who made data collection productive and safe. We also thank Ewaz Ali Bahrami, Jason Chu, Kevan Harris, Anand Gopal, Haseebullah Juma Khan, Sebastián Rojas Cabal, Brandon Stewart, Katherine Stovel, Alex Strick von Linschoten, Muhammad Usman, and Azhar Yerzhanova for their assistance and insights throughout the process of collecting and analyzing our data. We greatly benefited from advice offered by Elisabeth Anderson, Paul DiMaggio, Noam Gidron, Steven Pfaff, Malte Reichelt, and Blaine Robbins. Finally, we are indebted to three anonymous reviewers and the editors for their suggestions and support. Any remaining errors and omissions are our responsibility. While conducting research for this article, Daniel Karell was a Fung Global Fellow at Princeton University’s Institute for International and Regional Studies. His research activity was supported by a research grant from New York University Abu Dhabi’s Division of Social Science. Michael Freedman received support from the Israel Institute during the project.
While conducting research for this article, Daniel Karell was a Fung Global Fellowat Princeton University’s Institute for International and Regional Studies. His research activity was supported by a research grantfrom New York University Abu Dhabi’s Division of Social Science. Michael Freedman received support from the Israel Institute during the project.
© American Sociological Association 2019.
- computational abductive analysis
- sociology of the future
- textual analysis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science