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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Extremist Manifestos: Mass Shooters' Understanding of Law, Politics, and Crime
by Drouaud, Tifenn, M.A., The George Washington University, 2020, 80; 28022058
Abstract (Summary)

A subset of mass shooters writes manifestos which outline the rationale for their intended violence. Most scholarly assessments focused on the psychological perspective of the shooters (Hamlett 2017; Knoll 2012; Bondü & Schneithauer 2015). Instead, this thesis considers the shooters’ socio-legal imagination as offered in their manifestos, focusing on their understanding and construal of crime, law, and politics. Most of these shooters portray their violence as a form of justice in an unjust world. They consider themselves as at once individual actors and as part of a collective resistance of fellow mass shooters challenging illegitimate socio-legal orders. In this regard, they are best understood as an “imagined community” (Anderson 1983). Using critical grounded theory, this study analyzes the manifestos to understand the shooter-authors’ implicit and explicit ways of seeing and defining legality and legitimacy. In particular we consider: (1) their relational identity (e.g. to other mass shooters and like-minded people), (2) their view of their victims (e.g. enemies, collateral damage, symbols, criminals), (3) their construction of their acts (e.g. narrow illegality intended to challenge an aspect of law, legitimate but illegal, resistance against state or non-state entities, etc.), and (4) how they believe their violence intervenes in the socio-legal order. Answering these research questions highlights the socio-legal justifications mass shooters utilize in their resistance to dominant institutions and rules. The manifestos articulate the shooters’ extremist ideas which, together with their violence, are intended to challenge the socio-legal order in favor of a reactionary nostalgia.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Buntman, Fran
Commitee: Mangcu, Xolela
School: The George Washington University
Department: Criminology
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: MAI 82/3(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Criminology, Sociology, Law
Keywords: Imagined community, Manifesto, Mass shooters, Resistance identity, Resistance nostalgia, Social contract
Publication Number: 28022058
ISBN: 9798664789898
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