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Engineers of Jihad

A controversial sociology paper from Oxford University examines whether engineers have a predisposition to join extremist Islamic groups.

In their essay Engineers of Jihad, Diego Gambetta and Steffen Hertog say that engineering, science and medicine graduates are over-rpresented among extremist groups in the Muslim world, although this is not the case in the groups that have emerged in Western countries. They also claim that engineers alone are strongly over-represented among graduates in violent groups in both realms.

Gambetta and Hertog present four hypotheses for the pattern:

-Is the engineers’ prominence among violent Islamists an accident of history amplified through network links?

-Do their technical skills make them attractive recruits?

-Do engineers have a ‘mindset’ that makes them a particularly good match for Islamism?

-Is their vigorous radicalisation explained by the social conditions they endured in Islamic countries?

The authors conclude that the last two are the most plausible explanations for their findings.

The document can be downloaded here.

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