Skip to main content

Tackling Terrorism’s Taboo: Shame


perspectives-on-terrorism-10-5Journal abstract

This exploratory article provides a conceptual framework for explaining how shame is used by terrorist organizations in their recruitment and radicalization strategies. Shame is a universal emotion, experienced across all cultures, and as such presents scholars with a platform for easy cross-cultural comparisons of radicalization phenomena. Terrorist use of entitative identities to divide society into adherents and apostates, particularly in the study of religious extremists like jihadist entities, provides a verdant ground of understanding how organizations move people into higher states of radicalization, and potentially enticing them to engage in terrorism. However, as an aversive emotion, shame’s taboo status has, it is suggested here, led scholars to overlook its role in past studies of radicalization. This article postulates that emotions and identity are an integral aspect of the social self, and because of shame’s regulatory power over social identity and norm adherence, it should be at the core of the study of radicalization processes.

You might also like: