Fated to Pretend
We’ve all heard a lot recently about how, among the Afghan Taliban, there is only a small hardcore of deeply ideologically committed members, and that most are there for a variety of non-ideological, expedient reasons.
This is not particularly unique to the Taliban. Research into criminal street gangs has produced a tonne of evidence that only a very small minority of gang youths are truly committed to the ‘contraculture’ values of the group. See L. Yablonsky (1959), ‘The Delinquent Gang as a Near Group’, Social Problems, Vol. 7, pp.1-8-117; and N. Gerrard (1964), “The Core Member of the Gang”, The British Journal of Criminology, Vol. 4, No. 4, pp. 361-371. For most youths, it is social (rather than ideological) sense that keeps them as active participants.
This also highlights, in my opinion, a peculiarity: when talking about groups we fight with military forces, we talk about ideology, but re. groups we face in our own societies that we tackle with police, we call it ‘culture’ or ‘sub-culture’. I think we’re dealing with the same thing here and we’re limiting the potential of our research by not recognising this. We’re going to be developing more on this at the CCN project. We’ll keep you updated as things emerge.
But either way (and as an excuse to bring in some music to CCN), it seems most youths are fated to pretend: