Root causes of terrorism

Tore Bjørgo, Andrew Silke

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Identifying the 'causes' or 'root causes' of terrorism, and then removing or reducing these causes in order to diminish the scourge of terrorism, has been a popular idea among many politicians and scholars. Critics argue that 'root causes' are too remote from the alleged outcome, acts of terrorism, to be of any analytical or practical use. While recognizing that the causes of terrorism are an important subject, it is worth highlighting at an early stage some of the key problems faced by efforts to better understand these causes. There are several conceptual distinctions which may be of help to get a better grip on how causal explanations can inform our understanding of the emergence of terrorism. It can be useful to differentiate between two different types of causes behind terrorism: preconditions and precipitants. Most research on micro causes is based on individual cases of people who actually became radicalized and engaged in terrorist activities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Terrorism and Counterterrorism
EditorsAndrew Silke
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781315744636
ISBN (Print)9781138819085, 9780367580520
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • terrorism
  • violent extremism
  • causes of terrorism
  • root causes
  • radicalisation

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