The Sociology of Terrorism: Peoples, Places and Processes

The Sociology of Terrorism: Peoples, Places and Processes

The Sociology of Terrorism: Peoples, Places and Processes

The Sociology of Terrorism: Peoples, Places and Processes

Synopsis

This is the first terrorism textbook based on sociological research. It adopts an innovative framework that draws together historical and modern, local and global, and social processes for a range of individuals, groups and societies. Individual behaviour and dispositions are embedded within these broader relationships and activities, allowing a more holistic account of terrorism to emerge. In addition, the shifting forms of identification and interwoven attitudes to political violence are discussed in order to explain the emergence, continuation, and end of 'terrorist' careers.

The book draws on examples from across the discursive spectrum, including religious, 'red' and 'black' racialist, nationalist, and trans-national. It also spans territories as diverse as Chechnya, Germany, Italy, Japan, Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, South America, the UK, and the US.

Excerpt

Today terrorism and counter-terrorism are amongst the most divisive issues facing many contemporary societies. Perhaps unsurprisingly the interrelated topics have become a burgeoning area of academic study. Post September 2001 there was an impressive and rapid increase in the publication of books and papers that has to some extent been maintained. Based upon the quantity of publications it could be anticipated that levels of knowledge and understanding about the subject matter have been significantly enhanced. To some extent this is true. Important contributions have been made within political science, international relations, security studies, psychology and to a lesser extent economics. Typologies, power, economic exclusion, political (non) participation, defence and individual factors have become embedded within perceptions about the causes and consequences of terrorism. Yet stereotypes continue to pervade popular perceptions that feed upon, and are fed by, sensationalised media images and self-serving political portrayals. That these impressions often connect with prevailing opinion about other ethnic groups or religions, including, most notably at present, Islam, is considered evidence to support reinforced and inflated demonisation of associated groups and individuals. In the case of groups associated with al-Qa’ida, as MiltonEdwards (2006) commented, religion becomes the explanation, and the multitude of factors which contribute to people becoming violent in the name of Islam are neglected.

By comparison, little or no attention has been allocated to understanding the origins of these impressions and the ways in which they may interact with subsequent experiences within processes that result in the formulation of terror groups. Instead clichés dominate which fail to acknowledge that terrorists originate from across the world, in different societies that often have a history of political violence, with a multitude of socio-economic experiences, varying levels of qualifications and resources and include male and female attackers of different ages. There are a number of reasons why such caricatures continue to pervade. One of the main factors I shall argue in this book is that although sociology has the concepts and theoretical tools to enhance deep rooted levels of knowledge and understanding, the discipline’s contributions are severely restricted. Hence, this needs to be addressed.

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