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LUISS Guido Carli

Sociology of terrorism


ProfessorAlessandro Orsini
Course codeT060
General Discipline (SSD)SPS/11
Course Year3
SemesterII Semestre
Teaching LanguageEnglish
Total Workload200
Total Lesson Hours64
Course ContentsThe sociology of terrorism is a developing subfield of sociology that seeks to understand terrorism as a social phenomenon and how individuals as well as nation states respond to such events.
Reference BooksAlessandro Orsini, "Anatomy of the Red Brigades. The Revolutionary Mondset of Modern Terorrists," New York: Cornell University Press, 2011

Alessandro Orsini, "ISIS: i terroristi più fortunati del mondo e tutto ciò che è stato fatto per favorirli," Rizzoli, Milano, 2016.
Course Formative ObjectivesAnalyzing and understanding terrorism through sociological lens
Prerequisitesno prerequisites are required
Teaching MethodThe teaching method is based on the idea that the professor is a "conductor" who encourages and helps student to take part in a debate at any class
Assessment MethodStudents will be asked to write a short paper at any class to sum up the main ideas and sociological theories developed during the class.
Criteria For Deciding On Subject Of Final PaperStudents are required to pass the exam with full marks (30/30)
Extended Program And Reference Reading Material
Week 1What is terrorism? Can terrorism be seen as a form of "vile" violence? The typical terrorist act can be considered part of the sociological category known as “vile violence” that is the act of striking out at a victim after having placed him or her in a desperate situation that does not allow for any escape. The importance of sociologist Randall Collins in the study of terrorism and his book: "Violence. A Micro-sociological Theory"
Week 2Radicalization is a series of stages or phases through which the individual passes toward a worldview that legitimizes violence as a justifiable and effective means of achieving group objectives. One of the most cited models of radicalization is Silber and Bhatt’s four-phase radicalization process. According to Silber and Bhatt’s model, radicalization can be segmented along four
phases: the pre-radicalization phase; the self-identification phase; the indoctrination phase;
and finally, the jihadization phase. The pre-radicalization phase, otherwise referred to as “the point of origin,” is the period of time at the start of the radicalization process that describes individuals prior to being exposed to “Salafi Islam.”
Week 3Introducing Marc Sageman's theory about how one becomes a terrorist and why. Sageman shows that, for the vast majority of the mujahedin, social bonds predated ideological commitment, and it was these social networks that inspired alienated young Muslims to join the jihad. These men, isolated from the rest of society, were transformed into fanatics yearning for martyrdom and eager to kill. The tight bonds of family and friendship, paradoxically enhanced by the tenuous links between the cell groups (making it difficult for authorities to trace connections), contributed to the jihad movement's flexibility and longevity.
Week 4Bruce Hoffman's main ideas about the changing role of al Qaeda in Europe and the US after 9/11. The two leading academic journals in the field - "Studies in Conflict and Terrorism" and "Terrorism and Political Violence" - will be introduced to students
Week 5What drives women to terrorism? Introducing Mia Bloom's contribution about how and why women become terrorists. Mia Bloom's research investigate the deliberate use of rape during war as well as how terrorist organizations use rape to transform ordinary women into suicide bombers by raping them. Under the honor code in most cultures, the women will be killed by a family member for bringing shame to the family. This insidious practice has been used in Chechnya and Iraq.
Week 6Main approaches to the study of radicalization leading to terrorism: French sociology, social movement theory and
network theory; empiricism.
Week 7The DRIA model in the study of radicalization leading to terrorism. DRIA is an acronym that stands for: Disintegration of social identity; Riconstruction of social identity; Integration in a revolutionary sect; Alienation from the surronding world
Week 8The History of al Qaeda
Week 9The History of ISIS
Week 10Comparing ISIS and al Qaeda
Week 11The Red Brigades and the revolutionary mindset of modern terrorists
Week 12What is a "terrorist by vocation"?