The purpose of this article is to outline a social science understanding of terrorist threat, with special reference to political violence of new terrorist groups, fundamentalist movements and extremist organisations such as Al-Qaeda. Four main terrorism topics will be examined: (i) Definition of terrorism. We will make explicit the political and moral implications of the word ‘terrorism’ by tracing a brief history of terrorism; at the same time, a definition of terrorism will be proposed based on an overview of terrorism studies. (ii) Typology of terrorism. The topic to be addressed here concerns the classification of terrorist groups, paying special attention to contemporary fundamentalist movements and extremist organisations (particularly after World War II). (iii) Explanation of terrorism. Criticism will be made of psychological explanations of terrorism that try to trace political violence back to specific personal traits or psychopathological profiles of terrorists. We will offer an alternative explanation, focusing on specific social, cultural and religious factors to be considered the root causes of terrorism. Suicide terrorism will be used as a case study. (iv) Counterterrorism policy. Here, we will discuss some of the limitations and counterproductive effects of the counterterrorism measures adopted by governments after 9/11, including new antiterrorism legislation, the case of special detention at Guantanamo Bay, and the Iraq invasion. Most of such limitations are due to a misunderstanding of the political culture and ideology of Islamic extremism and fundamentalism (Islamism). Some concluding remarks will summarise the findings of the article and underline the most important suggestions for a future research agenda in the sociology of terrorism and counterterrorism.
|Titolo:||Sociology of Terrorism and Counterterrorism: A Social Science Understanding of Terrorist Threat|
|Titolo del periodico:||SOCIOLOGY COMPASS|
|Anno di pubblicazione:||2007|
|Numero e parte del fascicolo:||2|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI):||http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1751-9020.2007.00035.x|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||03.1 Articolo su rivista (Journal article)|