By Karen Mullins

The School of Criminology and Justice Studies is proud to announce a Dissertation Proposal Defense by Hope D. LaFreniere on "Extremists-at-Arms: Analysis of Violent and Nonviolent Extremists with Military Experience in the United States."

Tuesday, Dec. 19
11 a.m.
HSSB room 431or via Zoom


  • Chair Arie Perliger, Ph.D., Professor, University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • Claire Lee, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • James J.F. Forest, Ph.D., Professor, University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • Mia Bloom, Ph.D., Professor, Georgia State University
Extremism among active-duty military personnel and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces has illustrated a troubling intersection between those with experience exercising violence and those who may accept the use of violence to achieve their political goals. While extremist belief among military personnel and veterans mirrors civil society, their tactical experience poses a distinct challenge to national security. Service members are not necessarily more or less inclined to join extremist groups than ordinary civilians (Helmus & Brown, 2023), but their radicalization and participation in extremism may be unique. Relative deprivation theory posits that a perceived loss of status among the historical in-group – in this case, white male active-duty personnel and veterans, can lead to grievances. This perceived deprivation, coupled with military training leading to deindividuation, can cause an individual to take on a collective identity that excludes and even targets perceived enemies. This thesis proposes to examine this phenomenon using sentiment analysis, exploratory factor analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, and social network analysis to investigate both non-violent and violent extremists online and offline. I hope to identify how military experience shapes grievances and how this training is leveraged in certain by investigating extremists with military experience in different social contexts.