In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Terrorism

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Data Sources
  • Measurement of Terrorism
  • Defining and Conceptualizing Terrorism
  • Psychology of Terrorism
  • Sociology of Terrorism
  • Terrorist Networks
  • Situational Crime Prevention and Terrorism
  • Terrorism and the Law

Related Articles Expand or collapse the "related articles" sectionabout

Forthcoming Articles Expand or collapse the "forthcoming articles" section


Criminology Terrorism
Karen Terry
  • LAST REVIEWED: 01 November 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 14 December 2009
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0023


The study of terrorism is one of the most topical yet controversial issues in the field of criminology and criminal justice today. There is no single agreed-upon definition of terrorism, or of what constitutes a terrorist. Terrorism can be domestic or international, based upon single issues or broad ideologies, with or without a religious foundation, and explained from a variety of psychological and sociological perspectives. The goals of this bibliography are to expose the reader to the debate surrounding the definition of terrorism; examine the major data sources available to empirically examine terrorism issues; review major theories of terrorism from psychological and sociological perspectives; explore the link between religion and terrorism; explore who becomes a terrorist and why, as well as why some groups or movements employ terrorist tactics while others do not; and discuss domestic terrorism, including left-wing and right-wing groups and issues.

General Overviews

Several texts provide an overview of issues related to terrorism. These survey texts can be used to establish a foundation of understanding about the topic, to be supplemented with additional resources that discuss specific issues. Brent Smith, one of the top researchers in the field of domestic terrorism, wrote a classic book on terrorists in the United States (Smith 1994). Sageman 2004 uses social network analysis to examine how individuals joined the international “jihad.” Through interviews of leaders and key members of a variety of “religious” terrorist groups, Juergensmeyer 2003 provides an excellent overview of the role religion, sacredness, humiliation, and the past play in these groups. Hamm 2007 looks at a wide variety of terrorist acts and groups, especially the types of crime that domestic and the international terrorists commit, in an effort to aid law-enforcement efforts to counter terrorism. Clarke and Newman 2006 focuses on preventing terrorism through the innovative application of situational crime-prevention techniques to the study of terrorism.

  • Clarke, Ronald V., and Graeme R. Newman. 2006. Outsmarting the terrorists. Westport, CT: Praeger Security International.

    Focusing on situational crime-prevention techniques, the authors discuss the importance of identifying opportunities for terrorists to attack and the need to block those opportunities in order to prevent terrorism.

  • Hamm, Mark S. 2007. Terrorism as crime: From Oklahoma City to Al-Qaeda and beyond. New York: New York Univ. Press.

    Uses case studies to analyze terrorism from a criminological perspective. Presents biographies of jihadists and right-wing terrorists and descriptions of their organizations, strategies, and terrorist plots.

  • Juergensmeyer, Mark. 2003. Terror in the mind of God: The global rise of religious violence. 3d ed. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

    Through the use of research literature, media accounts, and personal interviews, Juergensmeyer documents the global rise of religious terrorism.

  • Sageman, Marc. 2004. Understanding terror networks. Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press.

    Based on his experience working with Islamic fundamentalists during the Afghan-Soviet war, and through the use of public documents, the author discusses the development, form, and function of terrorist networks. He dispels the myth that terrorist ties develop as a result of extreme poverty or religious devotion.

  • Smith, Brent L. 1994. Terrorism in America: Pipe bombs and pipe dreams. Albany: State Univ. of New York Press.

    Analyzes the process of becoming a terrorist, focusing on the philosophical, ideological, and religious backgrounds of terrorists in the United States. Also reviews the governmental response to terrorism in the United States.

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