After social structures. At this point constructivism provided

            After the end of the
cold war , dominant international theories and their variations, especially
neo-liberalism and neo- realism, had difficulties with explaining the transformations
in the World Politics. Both of these theories emerged from the perspective of
rationalism were to struggle with different approaches in international
relations.  This was the third debate in
IR, which will be among positivists and post positivists.1 End
of the cold war and the shift from a bipolar world to a unipolar, then in time
a multipolar structure increased the importance of different actors and their
social structures. At this point constructivism provided a midway for the
debate among rationalist and interpretive theories. 2
This theory brought a new perspective by admitting the reality while claiming
that there is a strong connection among a certain reality and the meaning we
give to them.3Numerous
terrorism studies had been conducted up to today aimed to express  the motivations, ideological background,
methodology, organizational features, power resources , geoghraphies and the
fields of attack. However, it has been 
controversial to create a unique definition of terrorism agreed on
because each different perspective in international  relations and political science have
different tendencies to express this term getting increasingly famous in
debates and sometimes it is hard to create a mutual definition in practice
simply because of the quote which so 
common “One man’s freedom
fighter is another man’s terrorist” 4  Although terrorism had a very long history,
especilally after 9/11 and with the following attacks around the World, the
concept was tried to be reconceptualized within a globalization framework by
many scholars. Each different perspective in international relations theory
remains explaining the concept of terrorism within their own core elements
creating the view. However, constructivist approach with its broader
perception, defines terrorism, the subjectivity of it , how is it represented
and why does it take support in a more inclusionary way. This paper will
analyze different definitions and perspectives to terrorism, including realist,
liberal, critical theories and constructivism in international relations


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Realism is the theory perceiving the world order as
anarchical and  states as the ultimate
key ators, despite of the emergence of the non-state actors.5  Realist perpective in international relations
rejects the idea that realism failed to define this growing phenomenon,
terrorism. Indeed, terrorist activities clearly illustrates that states are
stil the main actors while the world is ananrchic and politics is power based
shaped around the interest. Colin Gray states that

“The contemporary world terrorism and state policies are re affirmation
of the validity of the motivations and logic of fear. The world is working
according to the logic of security and interest as interpreted by Thucydides.”6

As terrorist organizations aimed the most senstive and valuable concept
which is the security of the states, realists perceive it as a sign for thier
rightfulness. According to Nargis Zahra:

The war against terrorism has validated the state’s method and
centrality. The US and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies
initiated the war against terrorism out of a deep sense of vulnerability and
fear of terrorists attacking other major powers in future. Earlier in history,
the Roman Empire fought against Jewish zealots due to similar fears. This is
the language of power, which has its own tone and temperament. The logic of
power politics has not changed throughout history7

As quote about realist perpective to terrorism,
illustrates the reputation idea of Keneth Waltz in interstate relations
claiming that the world politics remain with the same logic of interest and
security no matter how much the time passed. 8

            Noam Chomsky, Carl
Boggs and Richard Falk blame US often fort he emergence of many terrorist
organization with the claims of reaction and they call US as a terrorist state.
According to  Chomsky “with the official
definitions of terror … it follows from them that the US is a leading
terrorist state”9
 Realists refers to this interactions as
it is still the states  creating
terrorist organizations as the main actors by damaging the authorities of the
regional authorities, the states.

realist perspective states that, the borders of realism are not restricted to
the states as the actors but the realist studies can go beyond.”Realism must not only address outside critics but
also overcome internal resistance in the face of these changes. This resistance
entails reluctance by theorists to address a novelphenomenon, as well as
axiomatic impediments that lie in the hard core of the realist research
program. The mechanism of “monster adjustment,” discussed by Imre Lakatos, is
offered as a way in whichrealism can extend its scope beyond centralized
territorial states.” 10
So that it achieves to make analysis on terrorism by referring to new being
faithful to the core elements of realism .



According to Krause and Milikan terrorism is a challenge
for realist perpective in world politics, “Non-state
armed groups pose a direct challenge to the Westphalian project of constructing sovereign states that possess both the
Weberian legal and practical monopoly over
the legitimate use of force within a given territory.” 11 

liberalism, according to the democratic peace theory, democratic states have
less tendencies to go  war and peaceful
means are preferred among two democratic states. “No liberal theorist believes
there is a duty to include authoritarian enemies – be they states or terrorist
networks – in the pacific union: they do not share ‘our values’ and their
states are illegitimate because they lack the consent of the governed.” 12 As
illustrated in the piece, there is no a spesific methodolgy  in liberlism to apply on terrorism at a
theoretical level. 

Another liberal perspective emphasizes that since
after the cold war the dominant ideology of the World has become liberalism,
liberals perceive the rise of terrorism against Western liberal powers as an
ideological threat beside becoming a security issue.

“At a
theoretical level, advocates of liberalism take the challenge posed by
international terrorism seriously. While their historic rivals, the realists,
can invoke the domestic–international divide to argue that terrorism does not
materially affect the international system, liberals see terrorism as an
ideological challenge. While liberalism is about toleration, civility and progress,
terrorism takes us down an altogether different path – one of violent
intolerance where human life is lived in fear and dies in anger.” 13

            Critical Theory is
another perception that has made significant contibution to the concept of
terrorism in international relations belongs to the. Critical theoreticians
perceive terrorism as “‘fundamentally a social fact rather than a brute fact;
that its nature is not inherent to the violent act itself, but is dependent
upon context, circumstance, intention, and crucially, social, cultural, legal,
and political processes of interpretation, categorisation, and labelling’14

In the light of this quote, for Critical theorists, terrorism is the
reflection of how the people incomfortable with the existing system.

Devetak states that ” For critical theory any assesment of the degree to
which September 11 changed world order will depend on the extent to which
various forms of domination are removed and peace, freedom, justice, and equality
are promoted.” 15
So, critical theories mostly perceive the terrorism as a sign for system to
transform itself so they have serious concerns about the war on terrorism.16

            According to Habermas: ”
Terrorism is not an irrational phenomenon.”  Rather, it “should be seen together with neo-populism
as a reaction against the contraction of politics to administration on the one
hand, and pure acclamation on the other” 17

This piece illustrates that Habermas admits terrorism as a result of the
governments acting against the will of people, their concers, interest, desires
in economic, social or political lives.18

Although all these theories, realism, liberalism and
Critical theory made considerable contributions to the terrorism studies, their
assessments remain incapable of focusing and explaining  the motivations and organizational
capabilities of terrorism shaped around different factors. Realism perceives
the terrorist organizations within the concept of interest and power but this
does not explain the motivations of the people contributing to emergence of a
terrorist organization. On the other hand, liberalism perceives terrorism as
either ideological or security issue especially for the individuals. Critical
theory brings ontologically close points to constructivist approach it is still
a very structure based analysis of international relations but constructivism
adds more on it with the emphasis it made for actors’ social identities. 19


This paper argues that despite of all significant
contributions of the stated theories, they ignore the motivations of terrorism,
radicalism as a fact behind it, construction of knowledge and the effect of
terrorism discourse.  Constructivist
approach, states identities and interests are socially constructed an the
knowledge about them are socially constructed.20  In relation with the concept of terrorism, Ömer
Ta?p?nar in his article named, “Relative deprivation Is
a key to Understanding the Roots of Extremism” states that :” Yet, it requires
serious thinking if we really want to understand why so many young people from
diverse backgrounds become extremists and join violent movements.”21

Then he analyzes two camps bringing different ideas about why people get
radicalized, the first one associates extremism with ideology, culture and religion
while the second camp argues that terrorism is a socio-economic fact stemming
from the lack of education, unemployment etc.22 The
first camp rejects the concept of terrorism as a socio-economic fact and takes
it as a “security issue”.  When we look at the states reflecting a
terrorist attack as a security issue starting a securitization process, 23  mostly they refer terrorism as evil attempts
of the evil ideologies based on culture or religion in their dicouses by
ignoring the other camps’ view. On the other hand the famous quote “One man’s
freedom fighter is other mans terrorist” illustrate that a specific terrorist
organization is not always accepted in the same way by different actors. 24
This subjectivity illustrates that terrorism is what we understand from it. “Terrorism
does not exist outside our subjective understandings. Constructivism just
reminds us that terrorism is a social fact, ‘which requires human institutions
for its existence”25

According to non-traditionalist approach in security studies, threats
are no longer the real threats of military or a weaponary attack but is the
perceived threat, that each state creates its own security issues.26 According
to constructivist view states should reconsider their understanding of security
because, indeed the concepts of culture and identity of a society have enough
power to reshape security perception of a state27  Terrorism that is perceived mostly as a
security threat for the states, it might be because the state perceives and
reflect it in that particular way, which is the discourse.

            For  Hüsse and Spencer:
can only be known through the terrorism discourse. This is why we suggest a
shift of perspective in terrorism studies, from the terrorist to terrorism
discourse. Instead of asking what terrorism is like (what structures,
strategies and motivations it has), we need to ask how it is constituted in

“From a constructivist point of
view, terrorism is a social construction. The terrorist actor is a product of
discourse, and hence discourse is the logical starting point for terrorism
research. In particular, it is the discourse of the terrorists’ adversaries
that constitutes terrorist motivations, strategies, organizational structures
and goals.”28

“‘The meaning of ‘terrorism’ varies depending on the context, available
cultural resources, and combinations of people involved.’ 29

All the different quotes given above illustrates that, terrorism is a
constructed term based on the context, the social structure, and the subjective
stance of yours shaping your view about the organization.   From
the perspective of constructivist approach securitization of a terrorist actor
with creation of knowledge and  perspective
socially, might be conducted for the war on terror as this quote provides: “The
language of the ‘war on terrorism’ is not simply an objective or neutral
reflection of reality; nor
is it merely accidental or incidental … Rather, it is a deliberately and meticulously
composed set of words, assumptions,
metaphors, grammatical forms, myths and forms of knowledge – it is a carefully constructed discourse
– that is designed to achieve a number of key political goals: to normalize and legitimize the
current counter-terrorist approach; to empower the authorities and shield them from criticism; to
discipline domestic society by marginalizing dissent or protest; and to enforce national unity by
reifying a narrow conception of national identity”30

Some Emprical

Hüsse and
Spencer, as they examined the German newpapers, find out that rhe fight against


















 Post Yap?salc?l?k ve Ele?tirel


Küresel Terörizm Söylemi” sayfa 6

2 6

3 Ui dergisi, bölgese?lcilik
sayfa 170

One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist: a

overview of the psychoanalytic and
…sayfa 272

5 Terrorism, Realism and the State page 61

6 63

7 Zahra 63

8 Ui
degisi anar?i dosyas?

Four Perspectives on Terrorism: Where Theypage 187

Stand Depends on Where You Sit

Monsters page ilk

Introduction: The Challenge of Non-State

Armed Groups page 202

12 ibid

Liberalism, International Terrorism,

and Democratic Wars1 page  107


 The Orthodox and the Critical Approach toward
Terrorism: An overview page 5

Textbook page 137


and Poiiticai Vioience:

iHabermasian Perspective

18 Ibid

19 184

Rumelili, Bahar, “Bölgeselcilik ve

Kazan?mlar ve Vaatler”, Uluslararas? ?li?kiler, Cilt

Say? 46, s. 169-185.

Bu page 169

21 Ömer
ta?p?nar 76

22 Ibid 76

23 Ole

24 Onemans….


26 ?ran securitization-desec.

27 A
Constructivist Approach to the Identity

and Security Relationship: “The
Identity of the

Security” and “The Security of
the Identity” sayfa 177


The Metaphor of Terror: Terrorism Studies

and the Constructivist Turn

29 ibid

Toward a Completely

Constructivist Critical