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Radicalization as a reaction to failure: An economic model of Islamic extremism

  • Mario Ferrero

    ()

This paper views Islamist radicals as self-interested political revolutionaries and builds on a general model of political extremism developed in a previous paper (Ferrero, 2002). Extremism is modelled as a production factor whose effect on expected revenue is initially positive and then turns negative, and whose level is optimally chosen by a revolutionary organization. The organization is bound by a free-access constraint and hence uses the degree of extremism as a means of indirectly controlling its level of membership with the aim of maximizing expected per capita income of its members, like a producer co-operative. The gist of the argument is that radicalization may be an optimal reaction to perceived failure (a widespread perception in the Muslim world) when political activists are, at the margin, relatively strongly averse to effort but not so averse to extremism. This configuration is at odds with secular, Western-style revolutionary politics but seems to capture well the essence of Islamic revolutionary politics, embedded as it is in a doctrinal framework. Copyright Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s11127-005-5792-2
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Article provided by Springer in its journal Public Choice.

Volume (Year): 122 (2005)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 199-220

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Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:122:y:2005:i:1:p:199-220
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  1. Iannaccone, Laurence R, 1992. "Sacrifice and Stigma: Reducing Free-Riding in Cults, Communes, and Other Collectives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 271-91, April.
  2. Grossman, Herschel I, 1999. "Kleptocracy and Revolutions," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(2), pages 267-83, April.
  3. Laurence R. Iannaccone, 1997. "Toward an Economic Theory of "Fundamentalism"," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 153(1), pages 100-, March.
  4. Grossman, Herschel I, 1991. "A General Equilibrium Model of Insurrections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 912-21, September.
  5. Ferrero, Mario, 1999. "A model of political enterprise," POLIS Working Papers 9, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS.
  6. Mario Ferrero, 2004. "Revolution or Reform? Socialism’s Dilemma as Rational Choice Problem," Homo Oeconomicus, Institute of SocioEconomics, vol. 21, pages 251-282.
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