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The Neglected Role of Charismatic Authority in the Study of Terrorist Groups and Radicalization

Causes of radicalisationIdeologiesRadicalisation

Studies in Conflict and TerrorismJournal abstract

Recent scholarship has called for additional research into the role of charismatic authority in terrorist groups and the process of radicalization. However, the sociological concepts of charisma and charismatic authority are being widely misused in terrorism studies. Current radicalization research often indirectly flirts with core concepts of charismatic authority, but fails to properly tap into its analytical utility. This article proposes to begin addressing this gap in knowledge in three ways, with: (1) a synthesis of social scientific research on charismatic authority, (2) a critical analysis of how charismatic authority is being misused and overlooked in the terrorist radicalization literature, and (3) an exploration of challenges and opportunities for future research concerning charismatic authority and terrorist radicalization.

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