Special Issue Article

Differentiating Act from Ideology: Evidence from Messages For and Against Violent Extremism

  • Sheryl Prentice
  • Paul J. Taylor
  • Paul Rayson
  • Ellen Giebels


Although researchers know a great deal about persuasive messages that encourage terrorism, they know far less about persuasive messages that denounce terrorism and little about how these two sides come together. We propose a conceptualization that distinguishes a message’s support for an act from its support for the ideology underlying an act. Our prediction is tested using corpus‐linguistic analysis of 250 counter‐extremist messages written by Muslims and U.K. officials and a comparison set of 250 Muslim extremist messages. Consistent with our prediction, Muslim extremist and Muslim counter‐messages show disagreement on terrorist actions but agreement in ideological aspects, while U.K. officials’ counter‐messages show disagreement with both Muslim extremists’ acts and ideology. Our findings suggest that counter‐messages should not be viewed as a homogenous group and that being against violent extremism does not necessarily equate to having positive perceptions of Western values.

Keywords: violence, ideology, messages, counter, extreme

How to Cite:

Prentice, S. & Taylor, P. & Rayson, P. & Giebels, E., (2012) “Differentiating Act from Ideology: Evidence from Messages For and Against Violent Extremism”, Negotiation and Conflict Management Research 5(3), 289-306. doi: https://doi.org/10.34891/qpze-ak72

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Published on
05 Jul 2012
Peer Reviewed