ATbar Towards a Dynamic Analysis of Salafi Activism: Conclusions from a Dissection of Salafism in Germany
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Towards a Dynamic Analysis of Salafi Activism: Conclusions from a Dissection of Salafism in Germany

02/01/2013 | by Horst, Frank  

This study provides a new approach to the analysis of Salafi movements, which aims to account for the great behavioral dynamic in Salafi activism. It argues that previous approaches to categorizing different Salafi currents have led to static categorizations that could not account for the diversity and flexibility of Salafi judgments, and that ultimately led to faulty generalizations regarding the behavior expected of Salafi movement actors.

Working under the assumption that Salafi behavior is caused by a specific ideological interpretation of the material conditions of a movement, this study identifies two main themes and two modes of behavior in Salafi ideology. It shows how these themes and modes constitute a four-field matrix in which the Salafi interpretation of reality takes place, and behavioral options for the movement are identified. This approach, as the title suggests, is dynamic, because it allows for an analysis of an unlimited set of attitudes of a Salafi actor. The immediate advantage of this method is that it allows for much more detailed insight into the motivations of an individual, group or network, while enabling the scholar or practitioner to alternate the set of questions according to the objective of his research or intelligence needs.

The second part of this study combines this dynamic approach to Salafi activism with Social Movement Theory. It outlines the development of the Salafi movement in Germany, analyzes a small sample of its actors, and highlights future possibilities for using the new approach in a large-scale, in-depth analysis of the global Salafi movement.

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