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ECPR Summer School in Methods & Techniques 2020

Vigilantism Against Migrants and Minorities: Findings from an International Comparative Study

Political Violence
Political Activism
Tore Bjørgo
Universitetet i Oslo
Tore Bjørgo
Universitetet i Oslo
Miroslav Mareš
Masaryk University

Vigilantism can be defined as the use of extra-legal violent law enforcement or threat or intention to use such enforcement, carried out by informal actors, with the purpose to protect subjectively perceived “law and order”. As such, vigilantism is challenging the state’ monopoly of violence. This phenomenon is manifesting itself in a variety of forms, with different types of actors, means and target groups. We have organized an international, comparative research project exploring one particular form of vigilantism – directed against migrants and minorities. Our group of scholars have developed case studies of vigilante groups and activities from 17 countries (including North America, Western and Eastern Europe, Israel and India), collecting comparable data, and addressing the same issues. This allows us to develop typologies of main varieties of vigilante groups, and under which circumstances they appear, flourish or disappear. We can start to identify permissive and restrictive circumstances for when such groups are using violence or threats, and when and why they are (in most cases) restrained from doing so. We are also able to address the transnational dimensions of vigilantism, such as how different styles of vigilantism disperse, such as militias, Ku Klux Klan activities and Soldiers of Odin street patrols.
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