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Critical Essay: Relative Deprivation and the Causes of Terrorism

Critical Essay: Relative Deprivation and the Causes of Terrorism



One of the most frequently asked questions about terrorism is the following: What causes them to do it? Why do people join terrorist groups and participate in violent acts of terrorism? One previously common answer to the question is that terrorists are driven to do it and that the driving agent is pathology; that is, a psychological abnormality or affliction rooted inside the individual. Since the 1980s, however, this explanation has fallen into disrepute, and the consensus within the academic and counter-terroristcommunities now holds that the roots of terrorism lie not in the indivdual, but in the wider social circumstances in which terrorists live and act. 

Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, an increasing number of social scientists have begun to look for causal relationships between "relative deprivation" and terrorism. Relative deprivation is a key concept in the study of poverty, violence, and political ideology. As our textbook authors write, relative deprivation "means that people have a sense of deprivation in relation to some standard. Here, the attitudes people have toward their deprivation are more important than any objective assessment of that deprivation." 

Write a substantial 2 page essay  that addresses the following prompts:

--Conduct an Internet search to find at least three articles or books that examine the causal relationship between relative deprivation and terrorism (these can be any scholarly work or serious journalism produced in or after 2000; be sure to properly cite these works). Tip: important authors on this topic include Diego Gambetta, Steffen Hertog, Sarah Brockhoff, John T. Jost, and Arie Kruglanski. 
--Explain and compare how the authors answered the question of what causes terrorism.
--For these authors, what role does formal education, particularly higher education, play in heightening a sense of relative deprivation for would-be terrorists? Explain why.

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