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The ways in which terrorist groups, the government, and the citizens relate to each other in a triadic web of action


Domestic terrorist groups, like all violent nonstate actors, compete with governments for their monopoly on violence and their legitimacy in representing the citizenry. Battle for Allegiance shows violence is neither the only nor the most effective way in which nonstate actors and governments work to achieve their goals. As much as nonviolent strategies are a rarely considered piece of the puzzle, the role of the audience is another crucial piece often downplayed in the literature. Many studies emphasize the interactions between the government and the terrorist group at the expense of the constituency, but the constituency is the common cluster for both actors to gain legitimacy and to demand its allegiance. In fact, the competition between the two actors goes far beyond who is superior in terms of military force and tactics. The hardest battles are fought over the allegiance of the citizens.

Using a multimethod approach based on exclusive interviews and focus groups from Turkey and large N original data from around the world, Seden Akcinaroglu and Efe Tokdemir present the first systematic empirical analysis of the ways in which terrorist groups, the government, and the citizens relate to each other in a triadic web of action. They study the nonviolent actions of terrorist groups toward their constituencies, the nonviolent actions of governments toward terrorists, and the nonviolent actions of governments toward the terrorist group’s constituencies. By investigating the causes, targets, and consequences of accommodative actions, this book sheds light on an important, but generally ignored, aspect of terrorism: interactive nonviolent strategies.

Seden Akcinaroglu is Associate Professor of Political Science at Binghamton University.

Efe Tokdemir is Assistant Professor of International Relations at Bilkent University.

“Both terrorist groups and governments use nonviolence to engage with local constituencies. Battle for Allegiance moves us beyond our conventional wisdom about how actors try to win the ‘hearts and minds’ of people and speaks to why terrorists govern and when and why terrorist groups and governments choose to invest in civilians.”
—Kathleen Gallagher Cunningham, University of Maryland

- Kathleen Gallagher Cunningham

“[Battle for Allegiance] makes an important contribution to the literature on violent nonstate actors (VNSAs) examining how terrorist organizations use nonviolent actions targeting their constituencies as well as how governments target terrorist groups and their constituencies and does so with an excellent multi-methodical approach.”
—Victor Asal, SUNY Albany

- Victor Asal

“In this incisive book, Seden Akcinaroglu and Efe Tokdemir highlight how militant groups and governments vie for political power using nonviolent strategies. This important book complicates the conventional view that terrorism (and counterterrorism) involve violent action alone. An impressive, crucial study that moves the field forward in significant ways.”
—Erica Chenoweth, Berthold Beitz Professor in Human Rights & International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

- Erica Chenoweth

“In Battle for Allegiance, the authors make an important contribution to our understanding of the nature of strategic interactions between governments and dissidents, with special value on the role of the public in influencing those interactions, as well as the relationship between violent and nonviolent forms of contestation. The blend of interviews, focus groups, and large-N data analysis also sets a high bar for scholars of conflict processes.”
—Alex Braithwaite, University of Arizona

- Alex Braithwaite