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Socialisation and its Tragic Ironies

Adham Saouli

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Explains Hezbollah’s ceaseless drive for survival and the unintended, tragic consequences it has generated

What drives Hezbollah’s political behaviour? For three decades we believed that the impetus of establishing an Islamic state in Lebanon was its main goal. This book disagrees. Drawn from over fifteen years of research, it traces Hezbollah’s political trajectory, or socialisation process, from its birth in 1982 to 2017. It identifies the religio-political identity and doctrine that inspire Hezbollah and the politico-strategic goals that motivate it. It argues that war-making with Israel has driven Hezbollah’s socialisation in Lebanon and the region, transforming the Islamist movement from a loose organization into one of the world’s most powerful and sophisticated armed political movements.

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List of Abbreviations

List of Figures

Glossary of Arabic Terms

Preface - Mask or Mirror?

Chapter 1. On Socialisation and its Discontents

Chapter 2. Being Hezbollah

Chapter 3. Hezbollah Makes War, War Makes Hezbollah

Chapter 4. War-making as International Socialisation

Chapter 5. Tragic Ironies


About the Author

Adham Saouli is Senior Lecturer in International Relations, University of St. Andrews. His research focuses on state formation, social movements and international relations of the Middle East. He is the author of "The Arab State: Dilemmas of Late Formation" (Routledge, 2012). His study "Performing the Egyptian Revolution: Origins of Collective Restraint Action in the Midan" (Political Studies, 2015) was nominated for the Harrison Prize.


'In his exquisite study, Hezbollah: Socialization and its Tragic Ironies, Adham Saouli places Hezbollah somewhere between domestic Lebanese politics and its armed struggles against Israel. On one side the narrative battles of a militant subnational consciousness and on the other an asymmetrical warfare with a massive military machinery:  Hezbollah here in fact emerges as a postnational twist to Schmittean concept of the political, crafting militant virtues out of existential threats to its very viability. Impeccably researched, thoroughly documented, judiciously balanced, and beautifully written, Adham Saouli’s book sets a new measure for a new generation of scholarship in this field.'

- Hamid Dabashi, Columbia University

'This theoretically innovative and empirically rich treatment of Hezbollah’s socialisation disrupts many myths about the organization. In situating its trajectory within both Hobbesian and Lockean anarchical spheres, Saouli demonstrates the flexibility and responsiveness of the group to its immediate domestic and regional surroundings.'

- Samer Abboud, Associate Professor Global Interdisciplinary Studies, Villanova University

'This book provides a most interesting account of the Hezbollah phenomenon by examining the dynamics of socialization of the movement. It highlights in an extremely usefully way the interaction between the nature of conflict in Lebanon and in the region, and the formation of an adaptative Hezbollah identity and practice.'

- Frédéric Volpi, University of Edinburgh

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