How Does Studying Terrorism Compare to Studying Crime?
Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Criminological Perspectives, ed. Mathieu Deflem
Although the research literature on terrorism has expanded dramatically since the 1970s, with few exceptions little of this work has been done by criminologists or has appeared in criminology journals. This is surprising because breaking of laws and reactions to the breaking of laws have long been central concerns of criminology and terrorism is closely related to both of these concerns. In this paper we compare crime and terrorism in terms of conceptualization, data collection and methodology. In general we find many similarities and even though there are important conceptual and methodological differences, many of these are similar to the familiar tension that exists between general criminology and specialized areas of study such as organized crime, hate crime or juvenile gangs. In short, we conclude that criminological theory, data collection, and methodological approaches are highly relevant to terrorism research and that applying criminological methods to the study of terrorism could rapidly increase our knowledge of terrorism and our understanding of its causes and consequences.