Term Paper: Sociology: Comprehending September 11 Attacks

Pages: 10 (2577 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Terrorism  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] In the case both of threat and of support we must ask what salient contradictions of structure may be involved" (Social Problems). Hence, when we closely analyze, it becomes clear that it is the loopholes in the structure of our society that motivate many individuals to perceive victory in a different sense than what is normal and healthy as well as constructive. When culture shapes the destiny of individuals, we ought to view their actions in the form of a part of social order. This is because, for the suicide bombers there are various social forces at work just like in the case of normal human beings when they act and behave in a particular manner.

Culture, being the highly energizing force is usually the reason for various conflicts that exist today in the contemporary world. Politics, economics, ideology and national interests remain significant but culture remains bone deep and is essential to an individual's self. When the global interaction and interference augments among nations and individuals, this cultural conflict rises too. As a result, various social forces collectively work in order to shape the destiny and behavior of various individuals, some of whom resort to suicide (Achenbach, p. W17). Moreover, human beings also have the tendency to form groups and closely knitted communities or social circles in order to cooperate and have a strong sense of identity and association. For the same reason, many individuals indulge in activities that are harmful for them and for the entire society but they do so out of the desire to be wanted and belonged to a particular mindset (Achenbach, p. W17).

The U.S. Department of State defines terrorism as "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience" (Hudson). Here again, when we apply Emile Durkheim's social theory, it is evident that the suicide commandos whom the human society has started labeling as terrorists after the attacks of September 11, 2001 are the products of this society only that has various social forces working together in the form of culture, politics, religion and so on and so forth. When the sparks of politics and economics ignite aggression in these souls, many suicide commandos and other individuals become the victims of terrorism and inflict pain on others by exercising their will power, the reins of which are held by the social forces. For the same reason, Durkheim observed that "autonomy of individuals is itself socially generated and correlative with the development of the individual personality, social differentiation, and the morality of individualism as well as the absurd cult of the individual.

But, as with Veblen, his strong social determinism urges us to believe that the individual's personal, spontaneous, private, egoistic desires and activities are themselves socially generated rather than simply rooted in the organism. Even the norms that appear to be the individual's "sensual appetites" are in part socially induced. In short, the values, which become an integral and constitutive part of the individual personality, are socially generated. Society lives and acts within us" (Tilman, p. 1104).

Hence when individuals like suicide bombers are products of the societies they live in, they resort to activities that even take away their lives and the lives around them. Applying the similar concept to the September 11, 2001 attacks, it is evident that the suicide bombers that also played the role of the hijackers absorbed that part of the social order that energized a particular behavior in them and induced these suicide commandos to retaliate when placed in a cultural-clash and religious-threatening situation.


Hence from the above discussion it is evident that every event that marks the historic documents and brings about drastic social upheaval as well as manages to grab quantum of attention from the scholarly circles has both psychological as well as social perspectives. When closely analyzing events like September 11 attacks, viewpoints of various social theorists can be taken into consideration for an adequate comprehension of the social phenomenon or historic events. On the surface, the attacks of September 11 that collapsed not only two massive buildings but also affected the entire American economy, were labeled as violation of peace and forms of terrorism. The media did a marvelous job in presenting views of all sides pertaining to the 911 attacks.

Most of the scholars and part of the media has the preconceived notion regarding the September 11 event. Many viewed this "unprecedented event" (Thompson) as a Muslim-Jewish conspiracy and the media brought forward the reactions as well as views of several lawyers belonging to varied fields of practice including "litigation and civil rights to aviation disaster" (Thompson). Nonetheless, many experts presented their views regarding another aspect, though quite sociological in nature than political, suicide bombing apart from focusing on the acts of terrorism. Some of the scholars believed that the attacks of 911 proved that "the always suspended fanaticism of technological holocaust is challenged by the fanaticism of religious zealotry" (Arthur & Kroker, Terrorism of Viral Power). However, when scrutinized and observed through the eyes of one of the most remarkable social theorist, Emile Durkheim these attacks have little to do with terrorism denunciations. In fact, applying the concepts as put forth by Durkheim in his social theory of suicide, we may culminate that the social and the cultural patterns as well as the pull between the inner desires and the societal expectations are the possible forces compelling individuals to become suicide bombers.

Works Cited

Social Problems. Retrieved April 7, 2003 at http://www.soc.duke.edu/courses/soc11/11syls02.htm

Arthur & Kroker. Terrorism of Viral Power. CTHEORY THEORY, TECHNOLOGY AND CULTURE VOL 24, NO 3.

Achenbach J. THE CLASH; Two professors, two academic theories, one big difference. depending on which is right, September 11 may mark a brief battle against terrorism, or an endless struggle between Islam and the., The Washington Post, 12-16-2001, pp W17.

Goska D. Islam & Terror. Retrieved April 7, 2003 from: http://answering-islam.org/Terrorism/islam_terror.html

Dhossche D. DOES DURKHEIM'S SOCIAL THEORY OF SUICIDE APPLY MORE TO ASSISTED SUICIDE THAN SUICIDE? Retrieved April 7, 2003 at http://www.priory.com/psych/durkheim.htm

Hudson R.A. THE SOCIOLOGY AND PSYCHOLOGY OF TERRORISM: WHO BECOMES A TERRORIST AND WHY? A Report Prepared under an Interagency Agreement by the Federal Research Division, Library of Congress September 1999.

Retrieved from Democratic Fundamentalism Archives.

Tilman R. Durkheim and Velben on the social nature of individualism., Journal of Economic Issues, 12-01-2002, pp… [END OF PREVIEW]

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