The Interplay Between Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Analysing How the Perception of Terrorist Other Leads to the Counterterrorism of the Self

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http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-202109073642
Title: The Interplay Between Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Analysing How the Perception of Terrorist Other Leads to the Counterterrorism of the Self
Author: Koskela, Riina
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2021
Language: eng
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-202109073642
http://hdl.handle.net/10138/334083
Thesis level: master's thesis
Degree program: Globaalin politiikan ja kommunikaation maisteriohjelma
Master's Programme in Global Politics and Communication
Magisterprogrammet i global politik och kommunikation
Specialisation: Global and Political Economy
Global and Political Economy
Global and Political Economy
Abstract: The language we use when we talk about terrorism has an important role to play in the discursive construction of terrorism. Thus, how terrorism is perceived in the media, politics and official public discourses influences how we perceive terrorists to be. The constructive perspective of terrorism does not deny the existence of it: terrorism is real, but what it means depends on the interpretations. Counterterrorism also depends on these interpretations of terrorism. Therefore, it is argued that how states perceive ‘terrorism’ impacts their counterterrorism measures and policies. The overall aim of the study is to examine the interplay between terrorism and counterterrorism. The focus is on understanding how terrorism is perceived in the official public discourse of terrorism within the context of the UK’s counterterrorism strategy ‘CONTEST’ and contemporary terrorism since 9/11. Another layer of the argument concerns how the discursive practices constitute terrorist Other and thus, how the perceptions of terrorist Other constructed by the Self reproduce, reinforce and constitute behaviour, interests and identity of the Self. The aim is not to understand terrorist Other, but rather to analyse how Other is constructed by the Self and what effects this has on the Self. In this study, the UK occupies the role of Self, and contemporary terrorism, as perceived by the Self, represents the Other. The theoretical background of the study is on critical terrorism studies, constructivism by Alexander Wendt and securitisation theory. The research material consists of four different versions of the UK’s counterterrorism strategy CONTEST from the years 2006, 2009, 2011 and 2018. CONTEST provides comprehensive research material for this study because it sets the general agenda of counterterrorism aims, measures and policies in the UK. In the first part of the analysis, the study identifies five different perceptions of terrorist Other utilising critical discourse analysis by Norman Fairclough. The five perceptions of terrorist Other are active, different from the Self, radicalised, a non-state actor, and finally, an enemy. Based on these five perceptions of terrorist Other, the second part of the analysis then focuses on the interplay between terrorist Other and Self. The perceptions of terrorist Other are argued to reproduce, reinforce and constitute Self’s behaviour, interests and identity, and therefore influence on the counterterrorism practised by the UK. Analysing how terrorism is perceived through the construction of terrorist Other provides a broader understanding of the official public discourse of terrorism in the UK. In addition, the study argues that Self decides its actions by reflecting on the perceptions of terrorism it has created itself. Therefore, constructing terrorism as represented might partially explain counterterrorism measures and policies in the UK.
Subject: terrorism
counterterrorism
critical discourse analysis
critical terrorism studies
constructivism
terrorist other


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