Incident data in terrorism research
Friday June 21, 14.30 - 16.00
Session 6, Auditorium 7, Eilert Sundt building
Chair: Erin Miller
- Definitions matter: A comparison of open source media and U.S. governmental reports of terrorist incidents in Western Europe, 2002-2016 - Wojciech Kaczkowski, Ayse Lokmanoglu, Carol Winkler
- Harnessing Open-Source Databases for Tracing Right-Wing Terrorism: An Investigative Approach - Daniela Peterka-Benton
- Data are Not the Problem: Conceptual Discord at the Frontiers of Terrorism Research Anna Meier
- Right-wing terrorism and violence: the RTV dataset - Jacob Aasland Ravndal
Definitions matter: A comparison of open source media and U.S. governmental reports of terrorist incidents in Western Europe, 2002-2016
Wojciech Kaczkowski, Ayse Lokmanoglu, Carol Winkler, Ph.D. Georgia State University,
Definitional assumptions within and across terrorism databases cause variations in terrorist incidents that can have impactful implications for time-series analyses. This study compares 2002-2016 Western Europe attacks recorded by the open source media Global Terrorism Database (GTD) and U.S. governmental reports. It also compares the GTD recorded instances with those of the three U.S. agencies responsible for the governmental annual reports during the 2002-2016 period. The findings indicate significant differences exist between the GTD and governmental reports related to location, type, perpetrators, and target of attacks. Terrorist counts that different governmental agencies produce also reveal predictable variances in recorded instances.
Harnessing Open-Source Databases for Tracing Right-Wing Terrorism: An Investigative Approach (STR)
Daniela Peterka-Benton, Montclair State University
Right-wing extremism has resulted in some of the deadliest acts of domestic terrorism across Europe. Similar developments of increased right-wing extremist incidents have also been reported for the United States, oftentimes referring to them as right-wing terrorism. This paper presentation will highlight the difficulty of classifying right-wing terrorism as a distinct form of political violence. Databases tracking right-wing terrorist events in the U.S. and across Europe will be introduced and compared to actual terrorism convictions in an attempt to show that the social definition of right-wing terrorism, oftentimes lacks the appropriate judicial response in form of a terrorism conviction.
Data are Not the Problem: Conceptual Discord at the Frontiers of Terrorism Research
Anna Meier, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Reviews of the terrorism literature have long reached the same conclusion: terrorism data are biased, incomplete, and generally insufficient for rigorous research, making accumulation of knowledge difficult. I argue, however, that data issues are outcomes, not causes, of deeper conceptual problems with terrorism that the field continues to shoehorn. Academic theories of terrorism fail to capture the numerous forms of violence contained in “terrorism” datasets then used to test those theories, nor do such theories reflect popular—and deeply entrenched—notions of what constitutes terrorism among policymakers and publics. After outlining these problems in quantitative and experimental work on terrorism, this paper offers a way forward by developing a typology of conceptual issues based on the unit of analysis—individual, organization, or state. Ultimately, I contend that more complete, varied data will not improve knowledge accumulation in terrorism studies unless scholars turn a more critical eye toward what they, their research subjects, and the producers of their data mean by “terrorism”.
Right-wing terrorism and violence: the RTV dataset
Jacob Aasland Ravndal, C-REX, University of Oslo