Europeans tend to approach the problem of terrorism as a communal problem while the American administrations treat it as a political one. Thus instrumental and organizational theories of terrorism lauded in the United States neglect the cultural dimension of the phenomenon. Research shows, however, that terrorism must be understood as a result of a radicalization of cultural norms and values prevalent in extremist “subcultures” as well. This means that terrorists succeed not only by distancing themselves from the community as individuals and organizations, but by linking themselves to it as enthusiastic champions of cultural aspirations. This essay outlines the general contours of a cultural approach to the phenomenon of terrorism and contrasts it to instrumental and organizational approaches.
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