Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 26 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Critical approaches to the study of terrorism do not inquire into the causation of political violence. Rather, the umbrella term “critical” encompasses a large variety of methodologies which reject the positivist philosophy of science. This chapter explores the meaning of “critique” as an epistemological alternative to positivist models of knowledge. It shows how “critical” approaches do not ask “what causes terrorist violence,” but rather how societies have come to a point where they identify “terrorism” as a distinct form of violence, separate from “war” and “crime.” What makes terrorism “sensible”? How do we “know” terrorism as a concept or form? Drawing from long philosophical traditions, critical approaches explore how power, culture, and linguistics have constituted the concept of “terrorism”—creating a reality which is not “obvious” or common-sense, but contingent and arbitrary. The chapter then outlines the critical method of “discourse analysis” and its use in constructivist analyses of the War on Terror.

Keywords: critique, epistemology, discourse, constructivism, power, threat exaggeration, critical terrorism studies, War on Terror

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.