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  • 1. Hjerm, Mikael
    et al.
    Lindgren, Simon
    Nilsson, Marco
    Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Global Studies.
    Introduktion till samhällsvetenskaplig analys2014 (ed. 2., [utök. och uppdaterade])Book (Other academic)
  • 2.
    Josefsson, Tommy
    et al.
    Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Global Studies.
    Nilsson, Marco
    Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Global Studies. Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Learning Practices inside and outside School (LPS), Communication, Culture & Diversity @ JU (CCD@JU).
    Borell, Klas
    Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Global Studies. Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, HHJ. SALVE (Social challenges, Actors, Living conditions, reseach VEnue).
    Everyday resistance to violent radicalism and fundamentalism: Sufi strategies in Sweden2017Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Using qualitative interviews with representatives of Sufi communities in Sweden, the study directs attention toward the strategies developed byEuropean Muslims themselves in fighting violent radicalism and fundamentalism.

  • 3.
    Josefsson, Tommy
    et al.
    Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Global Studies.
    Nilsson, Marco
    Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Global Studies. Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Learning Practices inside and outside School (LPS), Communication, Culture & Diversity @ JU (CCD@JU).
    Borell, Klas
    Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Global Studies. Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, HHJ. SALVE (Social challenges, Actors, Living conditions, reseach VEnue).
    Muslims opposing violent radicalism and extremism: Strategies of Swedish Sufi communities2017In: Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, ISSN 1360-2004, E-ISSN 1469-9591, Vol. 37, no 2, p. 183-195Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Europe has seen the development of a new research agenda in response to Islamist terror attacks of recent years. Researchers are not only trying to solve the “radicalization puzzle” in order to understand the reasons why young Muslims in Western countries are attracted to extremism, but they are also making proposals for de-radicalizing extremists and creating relationships of trust with Muslim communities. Directly or indirectly, Europe’s Muslim minorities are the objects of the interventions and preventive work under discussion. This study suggests an alternative approach. Rather than regarding Muslims in Europe as more or less passive objects of various anti-extremism interventions, it directs attention toward the strategies developed by European Muslims themselves in fighting Islamist extremism. Using qualitative interviews with leaders of five Sufi communities in Sweden, the study examines a series of strategies for meeting the challenges posed by extremists.

  • 4.
    Nilsson, Marco
    Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Global Studies. Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Learning Practices inside and outside School (LPS), Communication, Culture & Diversity @ JU (CCD@JU).
    Causal Beliefs and War Termination: Religion and Rational Choice in the Iran-Iraq War2018In: Journal of Peace Research, ISSN 0022-3433, E-ISSN 1460-3578, Vol. 55, no 1, p. 94-106Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This article analyzes the length of interstate wars and the process of reaching a mutually acceptable bargaining solution. Rational choice scholarship has mainly sought to explain long wars in terms of commitment problems and private information. This article complements these rational choice perspectives by arguing that causal beliefs—a variable not considered by previous research—can also prolong wars by increasing expectations of battlefield performance and slowing down information updating. The article illustrates the role of religiously based causal beliefs with the case of one of the longest interstate wars of modern time, the Iran-Iraq War of 1980–1988. Even though commitment problems were present, they do not identify the root cause of Iran’s high expected utility of continuing the war, as religiously based causal beliefs played a more prominent role in prolonging the war. Religious causal beliefs constitute a real word mechanism that not only creates different priors about expected military capacity, but also slows down the process of updating beliefs, as battlefield events are not seen as credible information. Although the prevalence of religious conflicts has increased ove r time, the formation of beliefs and their effects on wars remains understudied when applying rational choice to real world conflicts.

  • 5.
    Nilsson, Marco
    Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Global Studies.
    Foreign Fighters and the Radicalization of Local Jihad: Interview Evidence from Swedish Jihadists2015In: Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, ISSN 1057-610X, E-ISSN 1521-0731, Vol. 38, no 5, p. 343-358Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Modern jihadism has experienced two distinct crises. The present study analyzes recent developments in jihadism, which can be seen in connection with efforts to solve the latest recruitment crisis of global jihad, and is based on comparative interviews with eight Swedish jihadists defined as foreign fighters. The study identifies three new trends evident in the interviews comparing jihadists active in Syria with those who fought in Afghanistan and Bosnia: socialization to global jihad, normalization of jihad, and an increasing use of the doctrine of takfir (i.e., ex-communication). This can be described as indicating the radicalization of local jihad, as the territorially based jihad, championed by Abdullah Azzam, and the global jihad of Osama bin Laden meet in the territorial realities of Syria and Iraq.

  • 6.
    Nilsson, Marco
    Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Global Studies. Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Learning Practices inside and outside School (LPS), Plats, Identitet, Lärande (PIL).
    Hard and soft targets: the lethality of suicide terrorism2018In: Journal of International Relations and Development, ISSN 1408-6980, E-ISSN 1581-1980, Vol. 21, no 1, p. 101-117Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Many scholars have assumed that suicide terrorism is the most lethal form of terrorism. Increasing lethality is important for the terrorists’ expected ability to coerce target states and may explain the increasing popularity of suicide terrorism since the 1980s. This article analyses statistically the lethality of suicide terrorism and suicide bombings with 96,649 terror incidents in the Global Terrorism Database. The results corroborate the hypothesis that suicide terrorism inflicts more casualties than other terrorist tactics. However, suicide bombings are not associated with a greater increase in the casualty rates as compared with non-suicidal terrorist tactics involving, for example, the use of firearms. Moreover, neither suicide terrorism in general nor suicide bombings in particular are associated with an increase in the count of dead when there are many soft targets to choose from, such as in Palestine and Afghanistan. The lethality of suicide bombings is the greatest when there are many hard targets, such as in Israel.

  • 7.
    Nilsson, Marco
    Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Global Studies. Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Learning Practices inside and outside School (LPS), Communication, Culture & Diversity @ JU (CCD@JU).
    Interviewing Jihadists: On the Importance of Drinking Tea and Other Methodological Considerations2017In: Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, ISSN 1057-610X, E-ISSN 1521-0731Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The field of terrorism research has arguably long been characterized by a separation of the scholars from their subject of inquiry. Interviews can be used to bridge this chasm, but making contact with potential interviewees, conducting interviews, and analyzing the data pose unique challenges when conducting research into jihadists, especially active ones. This article focuses on the author's experience of interviewing both former and active jihadi foreign fighters. It is specifically intended to contribute to a better methodological understanding of conducting first-hand empirical research into jihadi foreign fighters and builds on field work conducted in Sweden, Iraq, and Lebanon.

  • 8.
    Nilsson, Marco
    Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Global Studies.
    Juridik i professionellt lärarskap: lagar och värdegrund in den svenska skolan2013 (ed. 2)Book (Other academic)
  • 9.
    Nilsson, Marco
    Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Learning Practices inside and outside School (LPS), Plats, Identitet, Lärande (PIL). Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Global Studies.
    Kurdish Women in the Kurdish-Turkish Conflict: Perceptions, Experiences, and Strategies2018In: Middle Eastern Studies, ISSN 0026-3206, E-ISSN 1743-7881, p. 1-14Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This study analyzes how Kurdish women experience the violence and other consequences of the civil war raging between the PKK and the Turkish state. Interviews conducted in Istanbul, Ankara, and Diyarbakir suggest that Kurdish women experience the conflict both as members of an oppressed minority and as women. The study first focuses on identifying sources of conflict related stress that are specific to women, such as the need to be silent to protect their families, and then analyzes the strategies that Kurdish women use to deal with this stress as women, including networking and education.

  • 10.
    Nilsson, Marco
    Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Global Studies. Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Learning Practices inside and outside School (LPS), Communication, Culture & Diversity @ JU (CCD@JU).
    Mental strategies for fighting the IS: A field study of the Peshmerga soldiers in Northern Iraq2016In: Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, ISSN 1057-610X, E-ISSN 1521-0731, Vol. 39, no 11, p. 1007-1018Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This study analyzes the war against the Islamic State (IS), specifically on the front in northern Iraq, and the mental strategies that the Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers use to maintain their combat motivation. For this field study, dozens of soldiers of various ranks were interviewed and observed on three fronts outside of Mosul, Erbil, and Kirkuk in February 2014. While some mental strategies are nearly universal, others depend on the characteristics of the fighting force and the threat that they face. The article identifies five distinct mental strategies for dealing with the stress of fighting the IS: simultaneous dehumanization and humanization of the enemy, seeing a larger cause, use of humor, religious identity, and martyrdom. The findings suggest that factors beyond primary group cohesion, on which much previous research has focused, can play an important role in increasing soldiers’ fighting power.

  • 11.
    Nilsson, Marco
    Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Global Studies. Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Learning Practices inside and outside School (LPS), Communication, Culture & Diversity @ JU (CCD@JU).
    Muslim Mothers in Ground Combat Against the Islamic State: Women’s Identities and Social Change in Iraqi Kurdistan2018In: Armed forces and society, ISSN 0095-327X, E-ISSN 1556-0848, Vol. 44, no 2, p. 261-279Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This study analyzes the experiences and identities of Kurdish women fighting the Islamic State(IS) in northern Iraq as part of the Peshmerga Army. The case is especially interesting because these women have engaged in ground combat and because there is an empirical gap in knowledge, especially concerning Muslim women’s experiences as soldiers. Wars bring great destruction but can also catalyze social change. While seeking balance between their identities as good mothers and professional soldiers, many Kurdish women see their war participation as a chance to increase their agency and improve equality in society, as combat operations create a window of opportunity to change perceptions of women’s roles. Women soldiers still face prejudices and feel that they must prove their worth as fearless warriors in ground combat. However, interviewed soldiers said that they were not striving for equality but equivalency, stressing those qualities that women in particular can contribute in battle.

  • 12.
    Nilsson, Marco
    Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden .
    Offense-Defense Balance, War Duration, and the Security Dilemma2012In: Journal of Conflict Resolution, ISSN 0022-0027, E-ISSN 1552-8766, Vol. 56, no 3, p. 467-489Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The systemic offense–defense theory argues that the security dilemma and the risk of war become doubly severe in offense-dominant eras in the state system. However, the theory assumes in support of its main argument that wars are shorter when offense has the advantage. This article empirically tests the expected connection between the systemic offense–defense balance and war duration. A statistical analysis of wars 1817–1992 disconfirms the theory’s expectations. The article then draws different conclusions about the severity of the security dilemma when offense is dominant: both arms racing and the fear of aggression that the security dilemma thrives on should be less severe than offense–defense theorists assume.

  • 13.
    Nilsson, Marco
    Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Global Studies. Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Learning Practices inside and outside School (LPS), Communication, Culture & Diversity @ JU (CCD@JU).
    Primary unit cohesion among the Peshmerga and Hezbollah2017In: Armed forces and society, ISSN 0095-327X, E-ISSN 1556-0848Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This study analyzes the creation of primary unit cohesion among the Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers fighting the IS in northern Iraq and among Hezbollah fighters active in Syria. For this comparative study, Kurdish soldiers were interviewed on three fronts outside Mosul, Erbil, and Kirkuk in February 2015 and May 2016, and Hezbollah fighters were interviewed in Lebanon in March 2016. In contrast to many studies’ depictions of unit cohesion as relating to shared experiences of training and battle, this study argues that the Kurdish soldiers also import into their units various ideas relating to Kurdish identity. These include ideas about nationalism and reli gion, produced through discourses within the Kurdish military and society. However, Hezbollah seeks to minimize political damage in the multi-sectarian political context in Lebanon while conducting domestically contested military operations abroad. This has led to a downplaying of the sectarian aspects of the conflict, which could be imported from the Shia community to increase unit cohesion, and to an ideological framing of the conflict. The general ideas circulating in society and the political context therefore matter for the strategies that can be used to increase primary unit cohesion and soldiers’ fighting power.

  • 14.
    Nilsson, Marco
    Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Global Studies. Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Learning Practices inside and outside School (LPS), Communication, Culture & Diversity @ JU (CCD@JU).
    Radicalization Processes: From Sweden to the Jihadi Groups in Syria2017Conference paper (Other academic)
  • 15.
    Nilsson, Marco
    Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Global Studies. Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Learning Practices inside and outside School (LPS), Communication, Culture & Diversity @ JU (CCD@JU).
    Review of the book: A Sociology of the Total Organization: Atomistic Unity in the French Foreign Legion by Mikaela Sundberg2017In: Sociologisk forskning, ISSN 0038-0342, p. 135-137Article, book review (Other academic)
  • 16.
    Nilsson, Marco
    Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Global Studies. Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Learning Practices inside and outside School (LPS), Plats, Identitet, Lärande (PIL).
    The logic of suicide terrorism: Does regime type affect the choice of targets?2018In: Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, ISSN 1943-4472, E-ISSN 1943-4480, Vol. 10, no 2, p. 176-185Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Pape (2003, 2005) famously argued that suicide terrorism is specifically designed to coerce democracies. However, also several autocracies have been targeted. This article argues that suicide attacks as a strategy of coercion rely on a general expectation of being able to raise the cost of conflict for the target state. Raising costs may require attacking different types of targets depending on the regime type one seeks to coerce. While the cost of conflict can be raised for democracies by attacking civilian targets, it can be raised for autocratic regimes if the targets are chosen strategically, for example, by focusing on actors that are particularly important for the government. The article then analyzes statically the risk of government targets being attacked with all incidents of suicide attacks in the Global Terrorism Database, 1981-2014. The results corroborate the hypothesis that the more autocratic the regime, the more likely are suicide terrorists to attack government rather than civilian targets.

  • 17.
    Nilsson, Marco
    University of Gothenburg. Faculty of Social Sciences.
    War and Unreason: Bounded Learning Theory and War Duration2010Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Why are some wars longer than others? Offense-defense theorists have assumed that wars are shorter and it is more difficult for states to create security when military technology favors the offense and attacking is easier than defending. This study argues that this assumption is wrong on both accounts. First, statistical hazards models show that various measures of the offense-defense balance are not associated with war duration in the state system between 1817 and 1992. Second, if wars are not shorter when offense is dominant, there should not be more rational incentives for decision-makers to start wars when offense has the advantage compared to when defending is relatively easier. The study develops the bounded learning theory to better understand the causes of war duration and tests it with four case studies. The theory argues that offense dominance is often so limited that it fails to guarantee that theenemy is swiftly run over, other things being equal. As a swift victory does not materialize with the help of offensive military technology and tactics, the process of finding a mutually acceptable negotiated solution to the war easily becomes long because of asymmetric information about expected offensive capacity and expansive ideology (asymmetric causal beliefs and offensive stakes). These variables make it unlikely that the combatants would quickly adjust their war aims so that they reflect their actual battlefield performance. As the combatants do not learn from the battlefield events, they cannot agree on their expected relative strength, which is necessary from a rational choice perspective for finding common ground for a peace treaty. Offense-defense theory specifies defense dominance as the prerequisite for more peaceful interstate relations. On the other hand, defense dominance is difficult to create as the realist self-help logic drives many states to continue developing offensive weapons technology. Furthermore, by assuming that wars are shorter during offense dominant eras, the offense-defense theory creates false incentives for aggression. It is common sense that the risk of war does not increase when defense is dominant. However, even when attacking is relatively easier than defending, incentives for aggression should not increase on average if wars are not particularly short. Thus the study is a contribution to defensive realism.

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