Counter cultures, group dynamics and religious terrorism

Arie Perliger, Ami Pedahzur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Totalistic ideologies are breeding grounds for radicalization. Communities that adhere to such ideologies tend to rally when they feel threatened by powerful outsiders. Under such circumstances, community leaders become central. If they frame the situation as an existential threat to the community itself or to its most sacred values, they will accelerate the radicalization process and subsequently increase the prospects of violent actions by group members. The shift to violence takes place in the framework of close-knit social networks within the broader radicalized community. These networks consist of individuals who usually live in the same area and engage in continuous interaction among themselves. Such interactions bolster their communal commitment and develop a collective mindset that facilitates the slide of some of the individuals into violence. Those who eventually descend into terrorism usually exhibit strong identification with the community's values and extreme alienation towards the outside world. They also enjoy high levels of biographical availability. These hypotheses are tested using the case study of Jewish terrorism in Israel between 1948 and 2006.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-314
Number of pages18
JournalPolitical Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2014.


  • Counter cultures
  • Group dynamics
  • Religious
  • Terrorism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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