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Non-Physical Communities: A Communitarianism Perspective and Analysis, Case Study of ISIL

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Technical Report

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U.S. Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth United States

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Communities are traditionally seen as a collective group that occupy a physical space. These groups can form for a variety of reasons and pursue a broad range of objectives. With the expansion of social media in the second decade of the 21st century, this same behavior is rapidly taking shape in the form of non-physical communities. A non-physical community is a group that occupies no physical space but exists by means of a communication medium where obedient followers connect and unite under a common ideology. The five foundational attributes of a non-physical community are ideological principles, standardized distribution medium, connectors, obligated behavior, and no individual identities. As the reach of the Internet continues to expand and provide access to more people each day, this thesis seeks to demonstrate that a communitarian framework offers a fresh perspective to understand how non-physical communities create, maintain, and grow. Using the communitarianism perspective as a guide, a critical factors analysis reveals the critical capabilities, requirements, and vulnerabilities to foundational understand the challenges associated with non-physical community. This thesis strives to serve as a model for future reports to better understand neutral, friendly, and threat organization that exist in this unique operational environment.

Subject Categories:

  • Sociology and Law

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