Citizenship Initiative, led by David Jacobson and his colleagues at the University of South Florida, offers global Tribalism Index- a quantitative measure of tribal culture that can gauge degree of tribalism- to study development of radical movements and terrorist networks around the world. Their database will be ready for public soon.
In their recent article in New Global Studies, Jacobson and Deckard utilize this new Index and come to interesting conclusions such as the following:
Regression models that include both Muslim population percentage and level of tribalism demonstrate that, in the absence of a clear tribal culture, adherence to Islam does not make for susceptibility to extremism. Furthermore, these models show that it is within tribal environments that Islamist movements are best nurtured. The Tribalism Index proves of greater utility than the Failed States Index for eliciting the dynamics of violence in tribal societies, while illuminating the inaccuracy of seeing militancy as a function of Islam as such.
The article’s suggestion to consider tribal structures in development of radicalism needs to catch social movement scholars’ attention. A recent Op-Ed piece in NY Times, How Drones Help Al-Qaeda, explains how a drone attack that kills one individual in Yemen would lead a whole tribe joining the radicals, fighting against the USA. Of course, this fact does not suggest that the tribal structure is necessarily bad in eliminating radical groups. Yet, as noted in one of my earlier post, civilian deaths is one remarkable issue to consider. As suggested in the piece,
Yemeni tribes are generally quite pragmatic and are by no means a default option for radical religious groups seeking a safe haven. However, the increasing civilian toll of drone strikes is turning the apathy of tribal factions into anger.
Exploring the tribalism effect seems worth pursuing.