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Terrorism Research: The Record


Looking back at the beginnings of academic research on terrorism just over 40 years ago, it is extraordinary to see that what was once a marginal subject for social science has developed into a full-fledged program of “terrorism studies.” In fact, recently a sociologist considered the subject of sufficient importance to write a doctoral dissertation and then a book on the “social construction” of the field (Stampnitzky 2013). This essay highlights some examples of the contributions scholars from different disciplines have made to understanding terrorism. There is no consensus on any general theoretical laws of terrorism (there is no equivalent of a democratic peace theory, for example), but researchers have defined key concepts and deepened explanations of cause, effect, and process.What follows identifies four interrelated areas of explanatory inquiry into terrorism that have emerged over years of research: the effectiveness of terrorism as a strategy of opposition, the determinants and consequences of counterterrorism policies, how campaigns or waves of terrorism end, and how analysis of terrorism can be situated in a broader theoretical framework rather than treated as a phenomenon sui generis. Particular emphasis is placed on studies that are comparative and/or that situate the specific case of terrorism in a general theoretical perspective.

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Crenshaw, Martha. Terrorism Research: The Record. International Interactions: Empirical and Theoretical Research in International Relations (July 2014). http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03050629.2014.902817#.U9-Xw-NdUZn

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