IFF Project “Terrorism and the Public(s)” (Clément/Geis)


20. June 2020

Terrorism and the Public(s): Reactions to Terrorist Attacks and Escalation Dynamics

Maéva Clément / Anna Geis, funded by the HSU Internal Reseach Fund (IFF), July 2019-June 2021

Systematic, comparative research on the relationship between terrorist activities and multiple public(s) is a key research gap at the intersection of political science, communication studies, and social psychology. The few existing studies hardly problematize who is included/excluded from “the public”, thus potentially equating “public opinion” with media or elite discourses. There is also hardly any research on the impact of public opinions’ reactions to terrorism on local and transnational (violent) extremist groups.

This project tackles the issue both ways. The overall goals of the project are (1) to contextualize the larger radicalization dynamics within contemporary European societies, and (2) to investigate escalation dynamics within extremist organizations and milieus. In a longer-term perspective, the project analyzes reciprocal escalation dynamics and what might mitigate them. The project results are especially relevant for political communication about terrorism and current debates about societal “resilience” in Europe.

Having changed to a new position, Dr Maéva Clément keeps working on this project at the University of Osnabrück.