Advertisement

Political Violence as an Object of Study: The Need for Taxonomic Clarity

  • Edward Crenshaw
  • Kristopher Robison
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)

Taxonomies are essential to science because they represent the way human minds work. As Pinker (2002: 203) notes, “intelligence depends on lumping together things that share properties, so that we are not flabbergasted by every new thing we encounter.” The bedrock of our sciences, and especially the social sciences, is neither methodology nor causal modeling, but rather taxonomy (or, more specifically, the construction of variables within a theory-driven schema), for both our methods and our models may produce deeply flawed conclusions if our theoretical objects are poorly constructed or specified. As Lenski (1994: 1–2) points out, “Comprehensive taxonomies that are grounded in careful observation — even when incomplete or incorrect in earlier formulations — provide both a foundation for the formulation of basic theory and a spur to innovative research.”

Keywords

Social Movement News Story Political Violence Public Display Social Movement Organization 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work has been made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation (SES-0617980).

REFERENCES

  1. Banks, A. 2008. Banks' Cross-National Time-Series Data Archive: Variables and Variable Locations. Binghamton: Databanks International.Google Scholar
  2. Beck, C. 2008. “The Contribution of Social Movement Theory to Understanding Terrorism.” Sociological Compass 2: 1565–1581.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cooney, M and S. Phillips. 2002. “Typologizing Violence: A Blackian Perspective.” International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy 22: 75–108.Google Scholar
  4. Drakos, K. and A. Gofas. 2006. “The Devil You Know but Are Afraid To Face: Underreporting Bias and its Distorting Effects on the Study of Terrorism.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 50: 714–735.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Europa World Yearbook. 2005. London, England: Europa Publications Limited.Google Scholar
  6. Ganor, B. 2008. “Terrorist Organization Typologies and the Probability of a Boomerang Effect.” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 31: 269–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Goodwin, J. 2006. “A Theory of Categorical Terrorism.” Social Forces 84: 2027–2046.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Lenski, G. 1994. “Societal Taxonomies: Mapping the Social Universe.” Annual Review of Sociology 20: 1–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. McAdam, D. and D. Snow. 1996. Social Movements: Readings on Their Emergence, Mobilization and Dynamics. Los Angeles, CA: Roxbury Press.Google Scholar
  10. Mickolus, E., T. Sandler, J. M. Murdock, and P. A. Flemming. 2004. International Terrorism: Attributes of Terrorist Events (ITERATE) (07/27/04 version). Vineyard Software.Google Scholar
  11. Pinker, S. 2002. The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. New York: Viking Press.Google Scholar
  12. Rapoport, D. C. 2004. “The Four Waves of Modern Terrorism.” Pp. 46–73. In A. K. Cronin and Ludes J. M. (eds.), Attacking Terrorism: Elements of a Grant Strategy. Washington DC: Georgetown University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Sambanis, N. 2004. “What is Civil War? Conceptual and Empirical Complexities of an Operational Definition.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 48: 814–858CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Schmid, A. P., and de Graaf, J. 1982. Violence as Communication: Insurgent Terrorism and the Western News Media. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  15. Simmel, G. 1950. “The Fundamental Problems of Sociology.” In K. H. Wolff (ed.), The Sociology of Georg Simmel. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.Google Scholar
  16. Tilly, C. 2004. “Terror, Terrorism, Terrorists.” Sociological Theory 22: 5–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Tucker, R. 1999. BTSCS: A Binary Time-Series-Cross-Section Data Analysis Utility. Version 4.0.4. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.http://www.fas.harvard.edu/Google Scholar
  18. Weimann, G. and C. Winn. 1994. The Theater of Terror: Mass Media and International Terrorism. New York: Longman.Google Scholar
  19. World Bank. 2006. World Development Indicators 2006. New York: Washington, D.C.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward Crenshaw
    • 1
  • Kristopher Robison
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of SociologyThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyNorthern Illinois UniversityDeKalbUSA

Personalised recommendations