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Modelling terrorism and political violence

[journal article]

Armborst, Andreas

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Abstract This article introduces some conceptual thoughts to the study of terrorism and provides answers to questions such as: can terrorism be studied like other crime phenomena? What are the conceptual and methodological challenges when framing terrorism as crime or military conflict? What are the epistemological consequences of studying a highly politicized object? What makes terrorist violence different from other forms of political violence such as guerrilla warfare and insurgency? For this purpose, in the first part of the article a review will be conducted to ascertain what criminologists have contributed to the conception of terrorism. In the second part a model of terrorism is elaborated that depicts the crucial parameters of this form of political violence and thereby bypasses some of the existing conceptual difficulties and misconceptions. We learn from the various definitions of terrorism that the singularity of terrorism has something to do with the victim, the purpose and the consequences of violence. Specifically the fact that terrorists are as indifferent to the various targets as they are to the various political consequences of their attack is what distinguishes terrorism from related phenomena of political violence.
Keywords civil war; political violence; terrorism; guerrilla; warfare; war; resistance; conflict research; criminology; military conflict; definition; model construction; concept
Classification Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture; Criminal Sociology, Sociology of Law
Document language English
Publication Year 2010
Page/Pages p. 414-432
Journal International Relations, 24 (2010) 4
ISSN 1741-2862
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Modular Digital Peer Publishing Licence