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Social capital and terrorism

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  • Scott Helfstein

Abstract

Many studies of terrorism explain the use of violence against civilians with political or economic forces, often relegating social variables to the margins. Social factors, specifically societal-level social capital, play a far more important role in explaining patterns of terrorist activity than previously recognized. Social capital can exert pressures that act as both restraint and catalyst for terrorism, making explicit exposition of these differential effects critical. Analysis shows that higher stocks of social capital positively correlate with the number of terrorist groups, but the average attack activity of those groups increase as measures of social capital decline. The complex relationship makes it difficult to draw simple policy implications, but it does offer insight into the role that social dynamics play in terrorist activity.

Suggested Citation

  • Scott Helfstein, 2014. "Social capital and terrorism," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(4), pages 363-380, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:defpea:v:25:y:2014:i:4:p:363-380
    DOI: 10.1080/10242694.2013.763505
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Economou Athina & Kollias Christos, 2015. "Terrorism and Political Self-Placement in European Union Countries," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 21(2), pages 217-238, April.
    2. Shuo She & Qiao Wang & Dana Weimann-Saks, 2020. "Correlation factors influencing terrorist attacks: political, social or economic? A study of terrorist events in 49 “Belt and Road” countries," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 54(1), pages 125-146, February.

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