Tag Archives: Global Terrorism Database

For a Relational Approach to Contentious Strategies, or “It Takes Two to Tango”

By Jeff Goodwin

Political violence and terrorism (violence against noncombatants) have received considerable attention from scholars of social movements and contentious politics since the events of 9/11. Several important books and dozens of articles have been published by such scholars on these topics. I recently had the privilege of editing a special issue of the journal Mobilization (March 2012) on political violence, and the recent essay dialogue on terrorism at the Mobilizing Ideas website continues this important conversation.

At the same time, we should not forget, scholars have also devoted growing attention to nonviolent civil resistance, exemplified by recent studies by Sharon Erickson Nepstad (2011) and Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan (2011). In fact, strategies and tactics of various types have received renewed attention from scholars of contentious politics in recent years in an effort to understand better their causes and efficacy (e.g., Jasper 2004, Amenta 2006, Ganz 2009, Maney et al. 2012). The recent scholarship on violent and nonviolent strategies promises to enrich this more general discussion of strategy (although strategies may of course be differentiated on many other analytic dimensions). Continue reading

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The Global Terrorism Database: Support for Terrorism as a Fundamental Instrument of Social Movements

By Erin Miller and Gary LaFree

Social movements using terrorism or terrorism driving social movements?

The relationship between social movements and terrorism has emerged as an important analytical dimension of our research on terrorist activity. Our approach to this issue has been largely inductive rather than deductive, and stems directly from our work on the Global Terrorism Database (GTD). The GTD includes data on nearly 100,000 terrorist attacks that occurred worldwide between 1970 and 2010, including when, where, and how they happened, as well as information on the perpetrators of the attack. Rather than questioning whether or not social movements use terrorism as tactic, we frequently find ourselves focused on how we can and should organize the information we have on perpetrators of terrorism in a way that accounts for the complex relationships between various groups, organizations, and individuals that share political, social, economic, or religious goals. In essence, this indicates to us that empirically terrorism is in fact a tool of social movements aimed at achieving a common goal. To illustrate this, we discuss the methodological and substantive implications of studying perpetrators of terrorism. Continue reading

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Filed under Essay Dialogues, Is Terrorism a Form of Activism?