Who's in Charge? How Group Centralization Influence Ideology, Tactics, and Recruitment in American Extremist Groups


Some of the most significant threats to modern democratic states are extremist groups with amorphous and decentralized structures. These organizations have become more prominent among many ideological streams. However, there is limited theoretical development on how group structure, particularly the centralization of the group, affects the organization’s ideology, practices, and recruitment. Using four case studies, this work developed a theoretical framework and devised a methodological design using systematic snowball open-source sampling, and the identification and download of one hundred American extremist websites. This work found that centralization, on its extremes, may have an explanatory function on the cohesion and spread of ideology and organizational practices. Further, this work methodologically advanced the study of extreme websites through opensource systematic snowball searches and computer-aided textual analysis.