A Political Organization Approach to Transnational Terrorism

A Political Organization Approach to Transnational Terrorism

A Political Organization Approach to Transnational Terrorism

A Political Organization Approach to Transnational Terrorism

Excerpt

Terrorism as a phenomenon in the international system over the last decade and a half has spawned a new field of academic study. The field, which for lack of a better term can be referred to as terrorism scholarship, is an eclectic undertaking which includes scholarship from history, economics, sociology, law, and political science. The field has produced works which range from impressionistic essays to empirical and deductive theories, although there are many more of the former than the latter. The field has so far not produced any general theories of terrorist behavior, and many studies still start from an atheoretical orientation. Many works are impressionistic, descriptive, and idiographic. It is not surprising that this is the case in an emerging field of study, since preliminary observation and conceptualization must precede the construction of general theories.

Several problems result from such an approach, however. Impressionistic studies, lacking an empirical basis, can mistake impressions for reality and the preferences of the author can become the theory. Propositions are developed but not tested and are treated as factual without evidence. Such propositions may then find their way into the literature where they are repeated and given the status of knowledge.

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