Red Brigades and their mimics : Italy 1969-1980
Title: Red Brigades and their mimics : Italy 1969-1980
Author: PIZZINI-GAMBETTA, Valeria
Series/Number: EUI SPS; 2014/01
This paper investigates group-identity signalling among violent extremists in Italy between 1969 and 1980—with particular focus on the left-wing urban guerrilla organisation known as Brigate Rosse. Other groups both from the left and right end of the political spectrum will be taken into account for comparative purposes. Starting from the definition of political violence as propaganda by the deed this paper focuses on how underground groups manage their communicative purposes. It addresses how groups designed their claiming signature, the threat posed by unauthorized use of those signatures, and the strategies to protect them from deceptive mimics of various sorts (criminals, political adversaries and competitors). Drawing theoretical insights from the concept of mimicry in evolutionary biology and signalling theory the paper analyses equivalent strategic behaviour among the actors of the Italian political struggle and identify who mimics what model and to the damage of whom. The analysis is based on a mixed method approach (Creswell 2003) using both quantitative and qualitative sources. Quantitative data -based on a collation of the START-GTD and an original collection of data from Italian newspapers and biographical sources - are used to present a substantive picture of detected mimic behaviour and available signature designs. Qualitative data are analyzed thematically to offer contextual depth to the quantitative patterns identified. Biographies of former militants and judicial papers are used to illustrate the steps and the constraints that lead to the design of unique signatures or their failure to mimic proof the identity signal.
Subject: Political violence; Signalling theory; Mimicry; Competition; Credit taking; Property rights enforcement; GDT
Type of Access: openAccess; openAccess