An Exploratory Analysis of an Interdisciplinary Theory of Terrorism

Adam L. Silverman, University of Florida

The literature on terrorism makes many references to the identity and states of mind of the terrorist, his ability to adaptively choose from among a limited range of tactics, and her willingness to make strategic choices that form the basis of political violence as a wholly instrumental act. The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the socially constructed identity basis of terrorism. I define terrorism and then examine the relationship between identity, and its sources, social learning, resource mobilization, opportunity, and strain, as causes of terrorism. In this dissertation I am using anti-abortion terrorism as a proxy for terrorism in general. After integrating the different identity approaches I derive six hypotheses and subject them to evolutionary and cross-sectional empirical analysis. The empirical analysis is followed by four case studies and a content analysis of pro-life ideational material and definitions. The results of all three forms of analysis suggest preliminary support for an identity-based theory of terrorism.

(Return to Program Resources)

Updated 05/20/2006