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This book presents empirical research on the nature and structure of political violence. While most studies of social movements focus on single - nations, Donatella della Porta uses a comparative research design to analyse movements in two countries - Italy and Germany - from the 1960s to the 1990s. Through extensive usage of official documents and in-depth interviews, della Porta is able to explain the actors' construction of external political reality. The empirical data are used to build a middle-range theory of political violence that incorporates an analysis of the interactions between social movements and the state at the macro-level, an analysis of the development of radical organizations as entrepreneurs for political violence at the meso-level, and an analysis of the construction of 'militant' identities and countercultures at the micro-level.


"...this is a book to be read and reckoned with. The comparison between Germany and Italy is compelling, often leading one to see each country's experience in a different light. The insights into the dynamics of violent social movements, particularly those regarding the role of the police and the ways that groups and individuals move into terrorism are trenchant and original. In general, the book demonstrates the effectiveness of using an institutional approach for studying political violence." Ted Perlmutter, German Politics and Society

"There are...fascinating insights in these pages." Political Science Quarterly

"These descriptive accounts are well grounded in a skilled and extensive review of the scholarly literature on terrorism and on social movements, supported by an impressive bibliography....Social Movements, Political Violence, and the State will constitue required reading for scholars of political movements and political violence, and for Italianists, Germanists, and West Europeanists generally. Its contributions to comparative research are extensive, its findings detailed and provocative, and its data base exemplary. Della Porta has written an excellent book, which will serve to extend discussion of social movements, political violence, and state response." Karen Beckwith, Italian Politics & Society

"This is a book representing the best tradition of social movement research....The analysis first presents an analytically well-organized account of the timing and the structuring of violent protest in Germany and Italy that serves as the basis for the comaprison that follows....stimulating..." Klaus Eder, American Journal of Sociology

"...this is a very important book. Anyone interested in small-group political violence and/or social movements in general will find it worthwhile. Social Movements, Political Violence, and the State, offers a powerful model for research that will, I hope, be imitated." Robert W. White, Contemporary Sociology

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