Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Richard H. Worch


Decisionmakers in organizations like the Department of Defense and the State Department rely on accurate information to develop strategies to engage foreign populations. There is gap in understanding how perceptions are formed in religious adherents, specifically understanding how Muslims determine if violence is an acceptable or unacceptable behavior. Informed by Hobföll's conservation of resources theory of stress, the purpose of this case study was to identify and understand the religious and secular factors that influenced a group of Sunni Muslims in Western Michigan to accept or reject violent behaviors. Research questions focused on how this population's perception of violence was influenced by religion, various sources of information and threats of loss. Convenience sampling was used to identify the participants for this study. Data were collected from face-to-face interviews with 10 Sunni Muslims living in Western Michigan. The interviews were recorded, transcribed and the data were inductively coded and examined to identify trends in the information. While identity and religion were important to understanding how Muslims view the acceptability of violence, perceptions of the justice system's effectiveness also emerged as an important factor in understanding an individual's tolerance for violent behaviors. The results of this study may contribute to positive social change by informing leaders who engage large Muslim populations about how perceptions of identity and justice system efficacy impact the acceptability of violent behaviors.