The Effect of Economic and Cultural Globalization on Anti-U.S. Transnational Terrorism 19712000*

Omar Lizardo

Abstract


The events of 9/11 have rekindled interest in the social sciences concerning the global factors responsible for transnational terrorism. Two opposing frameworks currently dominate the scene: proponents of a destructive globalization approach argue that processes related to the transnationalization of capital produce native resistance in the more economically disadvantaged areas of the globe that is manifested as transnational terrorist attacks, especially against the U.S., civilizing globalization arguments point to precisely the opposite effect: economic globalization through the spread of markets and material goods brings with it prosperity and higher living standards, thus defusing the motivation to engage in high-risk political violence. In this paper, I propose an additional framework that goes beyond the narrow realism of the destructive globalization and civilizing globalization perspectives by examining the role of the globalization of world culture in theproduction of anti-u.s. terrorism. I argue that looking at the role of world cultural structuration is important because even though economic globalization may help create local grievances outside of the most economically advantaged areas of the world, cultural globalization provides the requisite models of individual and organizational action and the interpretive schemas that empower local actors with the constitutive capacity to engage in high-risk acts of political violence and allows them to make local/global connections. I test this framework using time-series world-level data in order to examine the global correlates of anti-u.s. terrorist activity for the last 30 years. The results provide mixed support for both civilizing globalization and destructive globalization viewpoints. Further, and in accord with the model proposed here, cultural globalization has a positive effect on the rate of anti-u.s. terrorist activity.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jwsr.2006.374

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