Contemporary global terrorism is a
A Critical Analysis of Terrorism from the Constructivism Viewpoint
Contemporary global terrorism is a
predominantly significant sector of inquiry with policy implications given that
citizens are at risk of potential attacks. Prior to formulating efficient and
apt policies to counter terrorist activities, there is a prime requirement to
have a profound understanding of the subject. Constructivism provides a perfect
framework for attaining an understanding of the modern terrorist activity. This
entry endeavors at analyzing the issue of international terrorism from the
perspective of constructivism to determine how ideas influence terrorist
Constructivism, which offers a
remarkable approach to global politics, bases on social reality. The theory
revolves around state interests with respect to social discourse and ideas. The
identity and ideas of actors shape states’ interests, which consecutively
transform the institutions, rules, and norms of the international organization.
Alexander Wendt, a constructivist scholar, asserts that international relations
are constructed (Jarvis, 2009). According to Alexander, shared ideas, as
opposed to material forces, establish the composition of human relationship.
Furthermore, the mutual ideas make the wellbeing and characteristics of
purposive players. Therefore, terrorism is less likely to be a physical aspect
but it is more of a collective construction. From the constructivist viewpoint,
international terrorism is a social construction. Terrorist actors are products
of discourse. Therefore as Hulsse and Spencer (2008) highlight, discourse forms
the focal point of studying terrorism. Predominantly, the discourses of
terrorists’ antagonists form the terrorist strategies, goals, organizational
structures, and motivations. In this perspective, humans make terrorism what
they say it is. Although there are people who carry out real acts, what their
actions mean remains an issue of interpretation. Hence, the interpretation is responsible
for constituting particular persons as terrorists (Hulsse & Spencer, 2008).
Constructivism theory emphasizes
that individual states collectively construct anarchy based on the way they
create their security dilemmas (Jarvis, 2009). Therefore, terrorism stems from
how nations see themselves and others through their collective cultural
understandings that arise from interactions. Indeed, Jarvis (2009) accentuates
that terrorism is an interpretation of happenings and their supposed causes.
For instance, while one state may perceive an individual as a terrorist,
another may perceive the same individual as a freedom fighter. Therefore,
constructivism establishes that the actual meaning of terrorism depends on how
individuals and states construct it. Further, constructivism emphasizes that
terrorism does not reside outside the human subjective understanding. However,
terrorism is a communal fact that has its foundations on human institutions.
There is no one universally
pertinent conceptualization of transnational terrorism. However, different
theories distinguish distinct paradigms and perspectives on terrorism. The
constructivism theory remains dominant among policy makers, academicians, and
intelligence analysts. Since terrorism is too disputed and contentious to
acquire a universal consent, the constructivist theory proves to be most
effectual in emphasizing the significant role that national interests and
parochial states assume in conceptualization of the subject of terrorism.
Hulsse, R. & Spencer, A. (2008). The metaphor of
terror: Terrorism studies and the constructivist turn. Security Dialogue, 39(6): 571-592.
Jarvis, L. (2009). The spaces and faces of critical
terrorism studies. Security Dialogue, 40(1):