Helen Watt: “In the Name of God: Examining how religious belief and practice influences villent behaviours within NRMs through the study of politically violent groups”

In Students by General Account

Despite an interest for New Religious Movements (NRMs) within the sociology of religion, the occurrence of violence and its causes has been under-theorised. There is therefore a need to research how combined aspects of religious belief and practice, forms of organisation and authority, interactions with the social environment and perhaps other factors, may contribute towards instances of group violence. Like any other religious organisation, these groups do not exist in isolation from their social environment, but rather as a differing aspect of it and, as such, violent behaviours which these groups engage in must be examined within the context of criminological theory. This research aims to explore the features, contexts, trajectories of NRMs that have been involved in the use of violence, in order to propose a general theoretical interpretation of the causes and factors of religiously motivated violence. It will accomplish this through a mixed method qualitative approach which primarily utilises secondary document analysis in addition to interviews. The research will engage in comparative analysis between NRMs and politically violent, or ‘terrorist’, groups in order to highlight unique aspects of group settings and controlled environments which impact upon how violent behaviours are perceived and constructed within these settings. It will specifically examine how religious belief and practices are influenced by these settings and, in turn, their potential influence on violence.