Over the last 40 years or so, the concepts of terror and terrorism have permeated and infused political, social, and economic thought and lexicon. Given the symbolism and obvious ways in which the terms become socially constructed, terror and terrorism appear as ripened enough concepts for interactionist scrutiny. In general, interactionists have stressed that concepts applied to terrorism become useful to elites for promoting a master narrative along the lines that “free nations” must coordinate efforts and spend resources to defend against terrorist threats. We wish to extend this interactionist analysis in the following pages to provide a perspective on terrorist threats as evolving and emergent concepts, sensitive to historical and social changes. Drawing from a small number of Government and commercial print and online sources in order to identify patterns that emerge from the language, we reference terrorism handbooks starting from the 1970s to current, post “9/11” handbooks. We propose evolutionary timeframes demarcated by substantive events and changes in how we define, understand, and respond to an abstract threat made tangible and concrete. In effect, we suggest that such publications provide insight into how the dynamics of credibility associated with government, media, and “expert” assertions have framed public understandings of threat and danger. These handbooks serve as a heuristic model to draw general patterns and themes that demarcate significant time periods in our understanding of terrorism and responses to terrorism.
Nhan, J. and Katovich, M. (2014), "What to Do in Case of Terrorism: The Evolution of Emergency Response Handbooks", Revisiting Symbolic Interaction in Music Studies and New Interpretive Works (Studies in Symbolic Interaction, Vol. 42), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 185-210. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0163-239620140000042010Download as .RIS
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