Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Political Science


Political Science

Major Professor

Rosenblum, Marc

Second Advisor

Day, Christine L.

Third Advisor

Huelshoff, Michael

Fourth Advisor

Venable, Sondra

Fifth Advisor

Hadley, Charles


In the last two decades, we have seen a significant surge in the number of Islamic fundamentalist movements, and there has not been a concise reason as to why. The main objective of this research is to determine the causes of Islamic fundamentalism, and, in so showing that an Islamic fundamentalist movement is inherently a social movement. To determine the causes of Islamic fundamentalism it is best to employ a labyrinth analogy, and it consists of four social movement conditions. The four conditions that make up my fundamentalist labyrinth can be found in the four social movement literatures, and they include: resources associated with resource mobilization theory; opening political institutions as associated with political process theory; socioeconomic inequality associated with Marxism; and the ideas, be they religious or freedom of thought, associated with new social movement theory. Not one of the four social movement literatures acknowledges, or is able to explain Islamic fundamentalism. Taken as a whole, each plays a vital role in my fundamentalist labyrinth. Social movement theorists have excluded Islamic social movements, specifically Islamic fundamentalism, from each of their respective sub-fields because they do not fit into any one of their theories. However, by merging the different theories to form a new theory in the social movement literature, I have been able to explain the causes of Islamic fundamentalism. Furthermore, I have created the first dataset that contains every Islamic fundamentalist movement that is or has been in operation from 1970 through 2006. The fundamentalist dataset has a total N (total number of fundamentalist groups) of 16,072 and a total number of unique fundamentalist movements of 983. With this dataset I was able to determine what state-level phenomena are positively associated with Islamic fundamentalism. Finally, to solidify this I developed three in-depth case studies: Hamas, Hezbollah, and Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.


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