Summaries - Research
Back Who Does Not Become a Terrorist and Why? Towards an Empirically Grounded Understanding of Individual Motivation in Terrorism
|Division||School of International Graduate Studies|
|Department||National Security Affairs|
|Investigator(s)||Rasmussen, Maria J.|
|Sponsor||Office of Naval Research (Navy)|
This project aims to examine an important question: Who does not join a terrorist organization, and why? Since the 1990s scholars (including the co-PIs in this proposal) have periodically conducted fieldwork among terrorists in order to understand the motivation of individuals who decide to join such organizations.
The body of literature that resulted from these endeavors has been perhaps too deterministic. In these accounts, radicalization and the decision to turn to terrorism appear almost inevitable (see for example Alonso, 2007; della Porta, 1992 and 2006; English, 2004; Jaber, 1997; Juergensmeyer, 2003; Moyano, 1995; Oliver and Steinberg, 2005; Reinares, 2001; Waldmann, 1993). Yet, as we know, in any society only a small minority will turn to violence. Whether we are talking about the Gaza strip, the Basque region of Spain or Pakistan, in every context we find many individuals who share the demographic, family, cultural, and/or socioeconomic background of those who decided to engage in terrorism, and yet refrained themselves from joining, even though they were sympathetic to the terrorists' end goals. The field of terrorism studies has not, until recently, attempted to look at this control group (for an exception, see Merari, 2010). This is an unfortunate oversight. It is only by looking at those who are in the same demographic as the terrorists but choose not to become terrorists that we will be able to refine the explanations of individual motivation and shape our policies and strategies accordingly.
|Publications||Publications, theses (not shown) and data repositories will be added to the portal record when information is available in FAIRS and brought back to the portal|
|Data||Publications, theses (not shown) and data repositories will be added to the portal record when information is available in FAIRS and brought back to the portal|