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How Has Criminology Contributed to the Study of Terrorism since 9/11?


Prior to 9/11 criminologists paid relatively little attention to the study of terrorism. In 2004, the authors argued that criminologists had much to offer to advance our understanding of terrorism and urged scholars to conduct such research. This chapter accounts the theoretical and methodological contributions by the field of criminology to terrorist research.


This chapter demonstrates how the study of terrorism has begun to get more attention in various professional settings of criminology. It then reviews applications of criminological theory and methodological advances by criminologist to terrorism research. It ends by describing efforts to build terrorism event databases.


Terrorism-related research has become common at both of the major criminological professional association meetings. Funding for research on terrorism, especially a large program on domestic extremism sponsored by the National Institute of Justice, has contributed to a growing research literature. Academic courses on terrorism have also been added to criminology programs around the country. While the criminological literature on terrorism has expanded greatly more progress has been made in applying criminological methods than theories to the study of terrorism. To date the most common theoretical perspective from criminology applied to terrorism studies has been rational choice and deterrence.


This chapter takes inventory on how criminology has contributed to terrorism research. It serves to validate current efforts while encouraging continued progress.

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Full Citation:

LaFree, Gary and Laura Dugan. 2015. "How Has Criminology Contributed to the Study of Terrorism since 9/11?" Sociology of Crime, Law and Deviance 20 (September): 1-23. http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/S1521-613620150000020002

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