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Accepted Paper:

Classical social theory and understanding contemporary religious terrorism  
James Dingley (Queen’s University of Belfast)

Paper short abstract:

The importance of applying social theory to understanding religious terrorism lies in the fact that it was largely concerned with both religion and violence as modern societies emerged in the 19th Century and traditional religion was challenged by science and industry.

Paper long abstract:

Both Anthropology and Sociology were heavily influenced in their formative years by the same classical social theory and fundamental in that social theory was an over-riding concern for the role and place of religion in society, indeed even identifying religion as society in Durkheim' case. However, whilst modern social theory tends to deride or dismiss classical social theory, especially in the case of post-modernism, it neither has been nor is tested to any significant degree in terms of understanding empirical reality, although Marx has been and is currently found wanting. However, it is the contention of this paper that classical social theory does stand up well to the test of explanation in the contemporary world, especially in the field of conflict analysis, especially in relation to an understanding of contemporary religious terrorism. Consequently this paper will explore explanations for modern religious terrorism utilising, in particular, the social theory of both Durkheim and Weber and go on to argue that such an understanding is a major gap in modern 'security studies' which is dominated by conventional International Relations and Politics which frequently fails to grasp much of what drives religious extremism and terrorist violence.

Panel P074
Science, modernity and the attack on religion: explaining religious terrorism
  Session 1