Terrorist Practices: Sketching a New Research Agenda

Joel Day


Contemporary approaches to the study of terrorism ignore the social practices that operate as ‘background noise’ in daily life. Research focusing on goal-seeking and the ‘aims’ of terrorist organizations leaves little room to analyze the performative, emotional, and ritual aspects of terrorism – key aspects of identity and disposition formation. Just as in other social cleavages, terrorist ritual and community practices forge actor preferences and passions. This note outlines puzzles which extant research agendas leave unanswered, proposes a ‘turn’ to cultural practice as an important new research area, and offers an example of how to conduct mixed method research on terrorist practices, looking specifically at how religious practice disaggregation predicts terror campaign duration. The article concludes with academic and policy implications.

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Perspectives on Terrorism is  a journal of the Terrorism Research Initiative and the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies

ISSN  2334-3745 (Online)

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