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Terror, Terrorism, Terrorists

Political Contention

The article addresses the use of terminology surrounding the phenomenon of terrorism. He defines terror as "the asymetric deployment of threats and violence against enemies using means that fall outside the forms of political struggle routinely operating within some current regime". He argues that social scentists attempting to analyze the phenomenon of terror should not view terrorists as a distinct class of actors, terror as unitary form of political action, nor terrorism as a distinct variety of politics. Instead, Tilly argues, terrorism should be viewed as a strategy implemented by a variety of actors in different political situations. Tilly then proposes a two dimensional typology of terror-wielding groups. The first dimension differentiates between violence specialists and nonspecialists. The second dimension differentiates between groups that operate within their home territory and those that operate outside of their home territory. This typology, Tilly argues, should help reduce the conflation of different types of terrorism, and help social scientists exhibit some degree of causal coherence to analysis in this area.