The Act of Terrorism


The functionalist perspective best helps me understand the act of terrorism. Additionally, I have found that the functionalist theory behind the explanation of war ties closely in with understanding terrorism as well. This week’s reading describes the act of terrorism to contain factors of violence, instilling fear into individuals, or the attempt to create changes; politically, socially, economically and culturally (Barkan, 2010). One of the elements behind the functionalist perspective is that although social problems exist, the issue serves an important function for society; whether malicious or beneficial. Many terrorists act on behalf of conscious beliefs, and justify their actions with the outcome of the results.

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For example, even if many individuals die during a revolt; if an injustice is changed, the deaths were worth the new justice. Another aspect of functionalism is similar to the first described, but additionally labels each of society’s functions as a necessary and essential aspect; not just an action that can later serve a purpose. This means, that the existence of terrorism, is necessary to keep the progress of society. Terroism, although mostly detrimental, may help spur a nation, economy, or society into an act of progress. Finally, on the other end of the spectrum, functionalism describes severe upheaval and movement within a society as unstable or disruptive. Like legitimate fat and weight loss must take consistency, not be comprised of fad and “instant dieting,” and other factors that promote slow progress, likewise, within a society, change must happen at a slow pace in order to remain sustainable. This helps explain acts of terroism, as they can often highlight an issue, or bring attention to a certain area; but leaves a wake of destruction, and instability. Most often, terrorists have an agenda they want to push, or a change they want to see – but as the functionalist theory explains; often acts large or extreme acts of aggression, violence, or chaos do not create a solid change, but can often be detrimental to all parties involved.



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