A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

Criminological perspectives on extremist radicalisation and terrorist acts


Over the past two decades, research on radicalisation, political extremism, and terrorism has become one of the fastest growing sub-fields within criminology. In this chapter, we identify a set of articles appearing in leading criminology journals and classify the major theoretical perspectives taken by each. To begin, the fact that we could identify over 100 relevant articles suggests that political extremism has become a major focus in criminology. Moreover, nearly four-fifths of these articles have appeared since 2010. For those articles grounded in specific theories, the most common perspectives were situational/routine activities and rational choice/deterrence. While studying radicalisation and terrorism through a criminological lens is becoming more common, many influential criminology theories are still uncommon (e.g. social control and symbolic interaction) or altogether absent (e.g. labelling and biological). We consider the implications of these changes for criminology theory and future research.

View Publication

Publication Information

Full Citation:

LaFree, Gary and Yesenia Yanez. 2023. "Criminological Perspectives on Extremist Radicalisation and Terrorist Acts." In The Routledge Handbook on Radicalisation and Countering Radicalisation, eds. Joel Busher, Leena Malkki, and Sarah Marsden. London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003035848

START Author(s):