Social Identity Theory
Module 1: A Brief Overview of Terrorism Studies. The first module of this series provides a brief overview of the field of terrorism studies, following the evolution of terrorism throughout the 20th century to today, and its increasing importance as a subject of academic study. Starting with typical academic approaches (chiefly, the “psychological” and “power-political” models), we discover how these models are alone insufficient for explaining the complex motivations behind terrorist group and individual actions. As a supplement or alternative to these traditional models, Social Identity Theory (SIT) is posited as a way of accounting for the seemingly inexplicable or “irrational” acts of terrorist and other violent subnational groups.
Module 2: What is Social Identity Theory? This module will provide you with a working definition of SIT and demonstrate its efficacy as a framework for understanding individual and group dynamics. When considered alongside the previous module, you should be able to see how SIT differs from past scholarly approaches to terrorism studies. Additionally, this module will prepare you for applying the language and framework of SIT to the phenomenon we refer to as “religious terrorism.” How can we explain the political, tactical and strategic choices made by individual movements and groups? How can we explain the differences in specific groups’ ideological emphasis, resilience and success? How are we to understand revolutionary commitment in order to deal with it in its specific contexts? How can SIT provide more accurate analysis to decision-makers through a framework for rigorous critical thinking?