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Applying Social Movement Theory in Terrorism Research: Cycles of Contention and Revolutionary Violence in Greece Workshop in Political Violence, Terrorism.

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Presentation on theme: "Applying Social Movement Theory in Terrorism Research: Cycles of Contention and Revolutionary Violence in Greece Workshop in Political Violence, Terrorism."— Presentation transcript:

1 Applying Social Movement Theory in Terrorism Research: Cycles of Contention and Revolutionary Violence in Greece Workshop in Political Violence, Terrorism and Extremism in Greece and Europe Greek Politics Specialist Group London 20 th June Sotirios Karampampas University of Sheffield

2 Outline Social Movement Theory (SMT) Terrorism Research Critique of Terrorism Research SMT Contribution Cycles of Contention Revolutionary Violence in Greece Application of Cycles of Contention in the Greek Case

3 Social Movement Theory Social movements:  Collection of informal networks  Shared beliefs and solidarity  Mobilization over conflictual issues  Frequent use of various forms of protest Different SMT models Synthesis of SMT models – Models overlap

4 Terrorism Research Terrorism and SMT overlap Continuum of political violence Clandestine violence Definition of terrorism

5 Critique of Terrorism Research Despite the fact that after the 9/11 terrorism emerged in the centre of the research agenda:  A-historicity of terrorism research  Treating terrorism as been in a social vacuum  Lack of multi-level analysis  Preference for secondary over primary data

6  Episodic and event-driven  Policy oriented – Terrorism experts’ effect  State-centric viewpoint  Subjugation of knowledge  Considered as an “a-theoretical undertaking”

7 SMT Contribution SMT as an appropriate tool to overcome some of the limitations of terrorism studies In fact, adopting an SMT perspective can serve to:  Broaden and deepen its intellectual body  Challenge many of the underlying assumptions of traditional terrorism research  Accelerate a critical turn of terrorism studies

8 Specifically, SMT:  Relocates terrorism within its social context and temporal context  De-exceptionalizes terrorism  Underlines its temporal fluidity  Counters the a-historicity and lack of context of terrorism research

9  Integrates macro, meso, and micro level explanations  Brings the state into focus  Brings internal movement dynamics into focus

10 Cycles of Contention Cycles of contention Revolutionary violence is understood in the context of a country’s cycle of mass protest as a function of the competition between components of the social movement sector, and occurs as a sign of the protest’s decline Violence as a differentiated strategic adaptation within the social movement sector

11 Revolutionary terrorism in Greece Definition of revolutionary terrorism Important characteristics of Greek case  it hosted one of the most dangerous terrorist organizations in Europe – 17N.  has given birth to two different generations of revolutionary groups  escalation of terrorist acts in the recent years

12 Challenges the mainstream knowledge over revolutionary terrorism:  Defies the idea of the ephemeral character of the terrorist groups  Defies the wave theory of international terrorism  Number of attacks in Greece claimed by left wing terrorist groups has been continuously escalating  Defies the idea of left wing terrorism as a minor security issue  Approximately the 82 per cent of the total attacks claimed by left wing terrorist organizations in Western Europe in the 2000s is attributed to Greek groups

13 Application of Cycle of Contention in the Greek Case Greek revolutionary terrorism as a direct effect of cycles of contention First generation of Greek terrorism  17N, Revolutionary People’s Struggle (ELA)  1960s cycles of contention  Underground resistance against the Junta  Emerged after the Polytechnic uprising and Metapolitefsi

14 Second generation of Greek terrorism  Revolutionary Struggle, Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire, Sect of Revolutionaries  December 2008  Modern cycle of contention ( )  Attacks intensified – New groups emerged

15 Conclusion Terrorism discipline as a poorly conceptualized field SMT as a valuable tool to understand terrorist violence Cycles of contention important in the understanding of Greek revolutionary violence


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