Developing a Sociological Theory for the Empirical Understanding of Terrorism

Boyns, David; Ballard, James David
June 2004
American Sociologist;Summer2004, Vol. 35 Issue 2, p5
Academic Journal
This article represents an attempt to construct a sociological theory of terrorism by means of six theoretical propositions. Taken together these six propositions attempt to explain counterhegemonic terrorism and the dynamics of organizations that participate in such political violence. The terrorism literature shows three emerging trends: spectacularization, criminalization, and fragmentation as explanations for terrorism. In contrast to these atheoretical trends, the theoretical propositions are offered around the themes of counterhegemony, resource mobilization, counter-institutionalization, power-prestige dynamics, ritualization, and social solidarity. The conclusion suggests that any predictions of terrorism are problematic but that these six theoretical principles outlined herein could offer deeper insight into the sociological phenomena of terrorism.


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