Restraint in Terrorist Groups and Radical Milieus: Towards a Research Agenda

Joel Busher, Tore Bjørgo

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Abstract

Questions about why and how terrorist groups, radical milieus and the individuals that comprise them do not carry out more violence than they do – particularly when they apparently have the ability and opportunity to do so – have tended to receive less scholarly attention than questions about what leads towards violence or why it abates. Yet if we look closely at almost any group, we can usually find evidence of some kind of restraint taking place, whether in the form of limitations on what or who is deemed an ‘appropriate’ target, or placing limits on the scale or style of violence that militants should deploy. This Special Issue of Perspectives on Terrorism, for which this article comprises the introduction, responds to this state of affairs by bringing together a series of articles that focus specifically on the issue of restraint within terrorist groups and radical milieus. This article provides a brief conceptual sketch of restraint, and makes the case that paying greater attention to restraint can offer rich rewards for researchers, policymakers and practitioners concerned with understanding and responding to political violence associated with terrorist groups and radical milieus, as well as other forms of political violence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-13
Number of pages11
JournalPerspectives on Terrorism
Volume14
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

This is an open access journal distributed under the terms of an implicit license.

Keywords

  • restraint
  • terrorism
  • radical milieus
  • limits on violence
  • political violence

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