37 Is There an Affinity Between Terrorism and Norbert Elias’ Process of Civilization?

Valarie Findlay


Terrorism has been studied across many disciplines – from history to criminology and sociology with inferences from psychology and psychoanalysis – with a primary objective of concluding what causes terrorism? Generally, the attempt to explain terrorism has been causality from singular notions – political and economic implications, such as destabilization, democratization or where pacifism fails. Other research has examined causality from the individual experience, where a perceived injustice or inaccessibility to equitable processes forms the basis for rejecting social arrangements, creating a shift to an alternate ideology.

Norbert Elias’ process theory, The Civilising Process, resonates from perspectives on social bonding and grouping and how these interactions influence social figurations. Elias’ non-normative characterization of human behaviour reflects on the fluid nature and will of humans with transformative compliance at the behavioural level. These fluid transformations, with no known goal or objective, void of value or cultural judgement, are described as civilizing. In this, Elias views two central themes – the long term social connections through power, behaviour, emotions and politics and the evolving networks of interdependent humans – as crucial in understanding grouping and bonding of individuals and what constrains them.

Where dynamic interfaces of the prevailing power balances influence people’s social existence, social changes cause the ebb and flow within accepted social values. Therefore, formed on the parallels of terror activity from existing quantitative data and the qualitative data from identifiable social features, this research will focus on these directional changes emerging from unconscious, learned interactions that become the social standards of groups.


Is There an Affinity Between Terrorism and Norbert Elias’ Process of Civilization? Copyright © 2022 by Valarie Findlay. All Rights Reserved.

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