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Sociology and Criminology & Law

Stephanie Mintz

Degrees Earned and From Where:

  • B.A., Sociology, University of Texas, 2015

Research and Teaching Interests:

  • Law and Society
  • Terrorism
  • Legal Studies
  • Public Perceptions of the Legal System

Dissertation Abstract

Learning Extremism: A Social Learning Approach to Explaining Engagement in Violent Extremism

My dissertation research aims to understand radicalization of extremists as a whole by applying Akers Social Learning Theory to data on radicalization. Using the Profiles of Radicalization in the United States (PIRUS) data provided by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) I employ various quantitative methods to answer my research questions that aim to see if the radicalization process follows the theoretical constructs of social learning theory. I will address the following questions: 1) Do the individual constructs of social learning theory (Differential Association, Definitions, Imitation and Differential Reinforcement) explain endorsement of extremist beliefs before engaging in other radical behavior in accordance with the social learning process? 2)Do the individual constructs of social learning theory explain engagement in violent extremism? 3) Compared to the individual social learning theory construct model, can engagement in violent extremism be explained by the social learning process as a whole? 4)How does social structure social learning theory differ in explaining engagement of violent extremism? This research will also look at possible policies that could help in weakening radicalization movements in the US. Based on previous research on extremist groups and social learning theory, city or neighborhood policies can help in educating the public and weakening local radicalization efforts and combating violent extremism (CVE). However, in proposing these policies a legal analysis will be discussed as legal dilemmas arise in investigating and prosecuting extremist activity that need to be addressed in policy recommendations.