Patterns of Collective Desistance from Terrorism
Miller, Erin Elizabeth
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To better understand why perpetrator organizations desist from terrorist violence, we must first understand how perpetrator organizations desist from terrorist violence. With this research I aim to improve our empirical understanding of patterns of collective desistance from terrorism in support of a robust research agenda to advance theory and policy on this topic. First, I review the existing scholarly literature on collective desistance to identify conceptual and practical limitations. Second, I describe several key challenges for empirical analysis of collective desistance from terrorism. Third, I leverage more than 40 years of event data from the Global Terrorism Database to analyze patterns of desistance among 632 organizations that carried out terrorist attacks between 1970 and 2013. In doing so, I use descriptive statistics and brief qualitative case studies to critically evaluate the results of this relatively large-N analysis and illustrate its strengths and limitations. Fourth, I expand the analysis to consider how characteristics of perpetrator organizations’ terrorist activity relate to patterns of desistance. Finally, I conclude with a discussion of the implications of this study for research, theory, and policy, as well as the limitations and opportunities for improvement and expansion upon the current research.