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Insurgency as complex network: Image co-appearance and hierarchy in the PKK

Ballinger, Ollie; (2023) Insurgency as complex network: Image co-appearance and hierarchy in the PKK. Social Networks , 74 pp. 182-205. 10.1016/j.socnet.2023.03.006. Green open access

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Abstract

Despite a growing recognition of the importance of insurgent group structure on conflict outcomes, there is very little empirical research thereon. Though this problem is rooted in the inaccessibility of data on militant group structure, insurgents frequently publish large volumes of image data on the internet. In this paper, I develop a new methodology that leverages this abundant but underutilized source of data by automating the creation of a social network graph based on co-appearance in photographs using deep learning. Using a trove of 20,645 obituary images published online by the PKK, a Kurdish militant group in Turkey, I demonstrate that an individual’s centrality in the resulting co-appearance network is closely correlated with their rank in the insurgent group.

Type: Article
Title: Insurgency as complex network: Image co-appearance and hierarchy in the PKK
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.socnet.2023.03.006
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socnet.2023.03.006
Language: English
Additional information: © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: Insurgency, Computer vision, Group structure, Hierarchy
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10176735
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