Terrorism and Ideology: Cracking the Nut by Donald Holbrook and John Horgan
An enduring bugbear in the study of terrorism is conceptualizing the role ideology plays for individuals involved in such activities. Explanations range from presenting ideology as a key determinant to those who argue that it is often barely relevant at all. In this article we seek to reconcile competing notions of ideology in the emergence of terrorism by making the case for a non-binary conceptualization of ideology. Our approach here emphasizes interpretations of social identity over depictions of the doctrinal. We divide key concerns about ideology in individual processes to terrorism into three related arguments: ‘cognition’, ‘causation’ and ‘exposure’ and explore how these can be reconciled. This more nuanced conceptual understanding of ideology in processes leading to terrorism, we suggest, will aid our analysis of terrorism and the way in which we may approach ideological variables in its context.