Causal Processes, Radicalisation and Bad Policy: The Importance of Case Studies of Radical Violent Takfiri Jihadism for Establishing Logical Causality

32 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 7 Sep 2009

Date Written: 2009

Abstract

Politicians, the media, and some social scientists seek to portray events such as 9/11, 3/11, 7/7 as the result of Islamic ‘radicalisation’; a battle of ideas and competing narratives between radical Islam and the liberal West. This indicates a conceptual position which suggests that to counter Islamically inspired political violence it is necessary to change Islamic ideas at their core. This paper examines how ideas of radicalisation are being used in current counter-terrorist and counter-radicalisation policies, and the problems with these policies given that there is no clear concept of what this term means or how it should be studied. This paper particularly highlights the methodological weaknesses that plague research on relationship between Islam and political violence – particularly where this is portrayed as Islamic radicalisation or Islamic radicalism. The paper argues that such single causal orientations indicate ideological research design bias, and that ‘effects of causes’ approaches fail to take into account the inherent causal complexity of collectively defined, but individually held moral obligations to participate in direct action. Until the study of Islam and political behaviour is radically altered to take account of the majority cases where individual Muslims are either peacefully politically engaged, or even politically apathetic, the success of policies which attempt to prevent violence in the name of Islam will be, at best, a matter of luck and intuition, rather than empirically justified and evidence-based.

Keywords: Radicalisation, Terrorism, Islamism

Suggested Citation

Githens-Mazer, Jonathan, Causal Processes, Radicalisation and Bad Policy: The Importance of Case Studies of Radical Violent Takfiri Jihadism for Establishing Logical Causality (2009). APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1451634

Jonathan Githens-Mazer (Contact Author)

Department of Politics ( email )

Amory Building
Rennes Drive
Exeter, Devon EX4 4RJ
United Kingdom

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