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Marketing: The Key to Success for Insurgents

Duquesne Professor’s Award-Winning Book Examines Support for Causes.  Even for insurgents, marketing matters. Dr. Clifford Bob, associate professor in Duquesne University’s Political Science Department and Graduate Center for Social and Public Policy, shows how marketing is critical for those who seek backing for their causes.

Bob will receive the 2007 International Studies Association Best Book Award in Chicago on Thursday, March 1, for his book, The Marketing of Rebellion: Insurgents, Media and International Activism.In addition to this important scholarly award, the book has been named a Top Book of 2006 by The Globalist magazine, indicating the book’s accessibility to general audiences.

In the book, Bob finds that various forms of marketing are critical for rebel groups who seek international backing.

“In my study, the political movements that gained support had better leadership, were more knowledgeable about international trends, and had more contacts with the media and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) like Amnesty International and Greenpeace than other groups that were equally in need,” Bob said.

“Local movements must promote themselves to attract the international media.  In some cases, they send representatives overseas to publicize their causes.  In addition, to interest foreign audiences, successful groups must often portray their issues differently abroad than they do at home.”

For instance, Bob shows how the Ogoni people of Nigeria gained little attention in a long-standing, ethnically based conflict with the Nigerian government—until they emphasized important but previously secondary environmental problems in the 1990s.  “When they downplayed complex ethnic problems and instead began emphasizing more clear-cut issues about multinational oil corporations destroying their homelands, they won international support,” Bob said.

Political marketing also helps explain why conflicts between the Tibetan minority and the Chinese government are known worldwide, while few outside China are aware of similar threats facing other minorities such as the Uighurs.

Bob’s scholarly work has appeared in many publications, includingForeign Policy magazine and the American Journal of International Law. His opinion pieces have been published in the Los AngelesTimes, South China Morning Post and International Herald Tribune.

Additionally, Bob has received grants and fellowships from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, the Albert Einstein Institution, and the Social Science Research Council.

He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard with a degree in social studies and from New York University School of Law. He received his doctorate in political science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Bob, 49, resides in Sewickley with his wife, Joan Miles, a community planner, and their two children, Alex and Natalie.

The International Studies Association has over 4,000 members worldwide.  Founded in 1959, it promotes research and education about international affairs and has nongovernmental consultative status with the United Nations. The Globalist is a daily online magazine, with features printed in 10 languages and readers in more than 120 countries.

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