Title

Risk Sensitivity and Terrorism

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2007

Publication Source

Political Studies

Volume

55

Issue

2

Inclusive pages

341-361

ISBN/ISSN

00323217

Peer Reviewed

yes

Abstract

One enduring question about terrorism is why individuals choose to join terrorist groups. Past studies have shown that terrorists are not always poor, and they can in fact come from more privileged groups in society. Risk sensitivity and prospect theory are approaches that can help explain some of the anomalies. They suggest that two types of group are likely to supply members for terrorist organizations in disproportionate numbers. One group consists of those who face a loss of status or position due to ongoing changes in society. A second group consists of those who have an opportunity to gain a major advance in status or position. Both groups are thus more likely or more willing to take risks such as joining dissident terrorists – either to maintain their position or to improve it. An analysis of the situation of Palestinian nationalists, nationalists in Northern Ireland and the Tamils in Sri Lanka provides support for the idea that sensitivity to risk can be an important factor in explaining the willingness of individuals to join terrorist groups.

Keywords

kuznar, lutz, terrorism

Disciplines

Anthropology | Political Science

 
 

Link to Original Published Item

http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9248.2007.00666.x