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Constructivism as a basis for understanding transnational terrorism : the case of Al Qaeda

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dc.contributor.advisor Dr. Costa Georghiou; Prof. Deon Geldenhuys en_US
dc.contributor.author Schild, David
dc.date.accessioned 2011-12-08T09:43:05Z
dc.date.available 2011-12-08T09:43:05Z
dc.date.issued 2011-12-08
dc.date.submitted 2011-06
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10210/4228
dc.description M.A. en_US
dc.description.abstract The essential nature of global politics has changed profoundly over the course of the past twenty years, becoming significantly more complex. The international system has evolved in such a way as to often render traditional, materially-determined theoretical approaches to International Relations ill-equipped to compellingly account for action. Increasingly, ideational concerns play a vital role as mobilising influences, causing actors to behave in an unprecedented manner. One of the phenomena most emblematic of this trend towards increased complexity and the rise of the power of ideas is that of contemporary transnational terrorism. Ideologically-motivated and often seemingly irrational, new terrorism confounds mainstream theoretical understandings of anticipated action and reaction and constitutes a particularly salient area of study, as security scholars grapple with effective means of counteraction. This exploratory study attempts to pave the way towards an appropriate understanding of contemporary transnational terrorism by utilising a theoretical perspective specifically tailored towards embracing the complexities of global political reality and championing the critical importance of ideational determinants of action, viz. constructivism. Constructivism is utilised as a basis to understand the intangible ideational mechanics informing the activities of the most significant contemporary transnational terrorist group, Al Qaeda, thereby simultaneously highlighting the value and appropriateness of constructivist enquiry compared to its outmoded theoretical peers and providing insight into more effective future counter-terrorist policy. The primary prescriptive finding of the investigation is that the key to combating Al Qaeda and, indeed, contemporary transnational terrorist groups in general, involves, through some intervention, heightening the perceived discordance between the espoused group norms which attract membership and actual group action. Such discordance has been seen in practice – in the case of Al Qaeda in Iraq – to cripple the efficacy and power of terrorist group functioning. Such an approach requires a comprehensive understanding of a terrorist organisation's worldview, coupled with a campaign of carefully directed public diplomacy tactics. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.subject Al Qaeda en_US
dc.subject Constructivism (Psychology) en_US
dc.subject Terrorism en_US
dc.subject Transnational terrorism en_US
dc.title Constructivism as a basis for understanding transnational terrorism : the case of Al Qaeda en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US

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