State legitimacy and terrorism: Implications for counterterrorism policy

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Purpose- Scholars often suggest that violent extremism or terrorism- "the threatened or actual use of illegal force and violence to attain a political, economic, religious or social goal through fear, coercion or intimidation" (LaFree, G., & Dugan, L. (2007). Introducing the Global Terrorism Database. Terrorism and Political Violence, 19, 181-204, 184)- is a battle for legitimacy. However, the ambiguous definition of legitimacy often makes its application to counterterrorism measures difficult at best. The purpose of this chapter is to define legitimacy to connect policies designed to counter violent extremism. Methodology/approach- The main impediment in the study of the influence of legitimacy on terrorism is the debate over the meaning and measurement of legitimacy. This debate is reviewed, and a recent resolution is presented, grouping the many conceptualizations of legitimacy into three broad categories and identifying empirical indicators for each. These categories are then used to distinguish counterterrorism policies that can be used to boost legitimacy. Originality/value- This chapter organizes counterterrorism policies into a recently developed framework as a tool for researchers, practitioners, and policymakers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-259
Number of pages19
JournalSociology of Crime Law and Deviance
StatePublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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