chapter  2
14 Pages

Notes on Criminology and Terrorism

WithAustin T. Turk

Conservative, liberal, and radical perspectives in criminology have been variously described and dissected. Applying the three basic perspectives to terrorism is a largely hypothetical exercise that is extrapolating from what have generally been considered distinctive features of the conservative, liberal, and radical perspectives. One persistent element in conservative thinking about crime causation is the inclination to presume and search for psychopathology or character defects. Liberal criminology typically assumes and looks for remediable environmental defects. Such a liberal view of terrorism presumes it to be a particularly ineffective and counterproductive kind of criminal activity. A radical perspective implies a sharp distinction between governmental and oppositional terrorism, as well as between approved and disapproved political violence. To recognize that terrorism is organized and orchestrated political violence is to accept that violence may be an option and resource for collective action. A liberal antiviolence perspective would seem least conducive to objective consideration of terrorism as either a research subject or a policy option.