Calculated, Passionate, Pious Extremism:Beyond a Rational Choice Theory of Suicide Terrorism

Calculated, Passionate, Pious Extremism:Beyond a Rational Choice Theory of Suicide Terrorism © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2010 DOI: 10.1163/156853110X499945 Asian Journal of Social Science 38 (2010) 394–415 brill.nl/ajss Calculated, Passionate, Pious Extremism: Beyond a Rational Choice Theory of Suicide Terrorism Domenico Tosini University of Trento Abstract This article proposes a theoretical framework to identify the main ideal types of motivations underlying voluntary suicide missions in terrorist campaigns, with special reference to Sunni extremists, such as Al-Qaeda and its allies. Based on empirical evidence from several suicide missions, the paper argues for conceptualising a specific kind of rationality qualitatively differ- ent from a calculation of costs and benefits and in addition to the complex constellation of affectual orientations driving militants. On one hand, martyrdom videos and biographical information on suicide attackers, as well as interviews with would-be suicide bombers, make it plausible to hypothesise not only a type of instrumental rationality in which suicide missions are viewed as adequate means for both egoistic and altruistic goals, but also affects and feeling states, such as outrage and humiliation, that create a desire for revenge. On the other hand, militants’ frequent references to a series of absolute values support the theory of an axiological rationality of suicide terrorism, meant as a disposition http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Asian Journal of Social Science Brill

Calculated, Passionate, Pious Extremism:Beyond a Rational Choice Theory of Suicide Terrorism

Asian Journal of Social Science, Volume 38 (3): 394 – Jan 1, 2010

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© 2010 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1568-4849
eISSN
1568-5314
DOI
10.1163/156853110X499945
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2010 DOI: 10.1163/156853110X499945 Asian Journal of Social Science 38 (2010) 394–415 brill.nl/ajss Calculated, Passionate, Pious Extremism: Beyond a Rational Choice Theory of Suicide Terrorism Domenico Tosini University of Trento Abstract This article proposes a theoretical framework to identify the main ideal types of motivations underlying voluntary suicide missions in terrorist campaigns, with special reference to Sunni extremists, such as Al-Qaeda and its allies. Based on empirical evidence from several suicide missions, the paper argues for conceptualising a specific kind of rationality qualitatively differ- ent from a calculation of costs and benefits and in addition to the complex constellation of affectual orientations driving militants. On one hand, martyrdom videos and biographical information on suicide attackers, as well as interviews with would-be suicide bombers, make it plausible to hypothesise not only a type of instrumental rationality in which suicide missions are viewed as adequate means for both egoistic and altruistic goals, but also affects and feeling states, such as outrage and humiliation, that create a desire for revenge. On the other hand, militants’ frequent references to a series of absolute values support the theory of an axiological rationality of suicide terrorism, meant as a disposition

Journal

Asian Journal of Social ScienceBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2010

Keywords: terrorism; Sunni extremism; insurgency; jihad, martyrdom; instrumental rationality; pan-Islamic nationalism; axiological rationality; political violence; suicide attack; rational choice theory; Al-Qaeda; affectual behaviour

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