This chapter outlines a number of reasons why the aspiration to reach an agreed definition of terrorism remains an important endeavour in the post 9/11 policymaking environment, not least to limit the subjective application of the term. There is also a need within academia to improve the theoretical foundation as to ‘what terrorism is’, notwithstanding the formidable challenges that confront such a task. Arguing that ‘terrorism’ is a social construction it considers whether or not the term can therefore simply be viewed as a derogatory label for violence that is not qualitatively distinctive to other forms of political violence, or whether there really is something analytically distinctive about terrorism that is worth theorizing about. Arguing for the latter, the chapter goes on to introduce some of the main themes of the book and finishes with an outline of the book’s structure.
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