Who are the Hilltop Youth? : Perception of self vs. Perception of researchers
Sammanfattning: This qualitative study focuses on perceptions of actors within protracted social conflicts and the value of using self-categorization as a tool to increase understanding of conflict actors as a step towards to finding alternative solutions. It compares self-perceptions of the Hilltop Youth, a radical settler group in the West Bank region in the Middle East, to categorizations used in all of the established literature on the group. Five categories that are recurring in the literature on the Hilltop Youth (terrorists, vigilantes, active flank within a social movement, gang, and activist) are contrasted with Self-Categorization theory and will be used as a tool to determine the self-image of the group as displayed in the digital and social media. The findings show that the category that finds common ground between the two perspectives is activists. The Hilltop Youth view themselves as freedom fighters, doing what they are chosen to do: settle the land, already promised to them. Their actions and beliefs translate to political activism this both including building homes and creating outposts as well as conducting “price tag” attacks. The findings underline the difference in perceived realities between the Hilltop Youth and researchers. Concluding the need to incorporate the perspective of the actor itself in order to create a sustainable peace based on the same reality, something that have been overlooked in previous Hilltop Youth research.
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