The Division of Politics and Economics invites the CGU community to attend this week’s Tuesday Lunch Talk featuring Gregoire Phillips, fourth year PhD candidate at the University of California, San Diego. Lunch will be provided.
Gregoire Phillips specializes in rebellion, extremism, and civil conflict, with a particular interest in how rebel groups use media to communicate their goals, capabilities, and commitments to supporters and enemies alike. He is currently a Herb York Dissertation Fellow at the University of California Institute for Global Conflict and Cooperation for the 2019-2020 academic year, and expects to be on the academic job market in Fall of 2020.
Talk Title: “Velvet Gloves on Iron Fists: Media, Influence, and Power in Modern Extremism”
What strategies do extremist groups employ to gain and maintain support and compliance among a broad coalition of supporters with a variety of different ideological and material interests? How did these strategies change over time, across groups, and across places under their control? Focusing on “governing extremists,” or extremist groups with territorial or governance ambitions, Gregoire Phillips argues that extremists invest in extensive, multifaceted persuasion campaigns to signal commitment to multiple, sometimes competing constituencies, in order to broaden their influence. Phillips identifies three particularly salient mechanisms through which they do so – tying hands, sinking costs, and reframing the conflict narrative – that connect the political incentives that governing extremists have to expand their coalition of supporters to the way they use media to communicate with these audiences. Phillips then uses applied machine learning methods on a corpus of over 12,000 propaganda releases by three Islamic extremist groups from 2012-2018 to test how responsive the use of these signals is to changes in the acquisition of territory, the group’s primary source of revenue, and changes in the military distribution of power.