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Alienated radicals and detached deviants: what do the lessons of the 1970 Falls Curfew and the alienation-radicalisation hypothesis mean for current British approaches to counter-terrorism?

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British counter-terrorism policy-makers are at the centre of two inherently problematic debates. First, there is the debate regarding the worthiness of incorporating theoretical and historical discussions into the policy-making process, and second, there is the discourse surrounding the nature of alienation and how this affects counter-terrorism as a whole. This article seeks to demonstrate how the empirical base provided by theoretical and historical discussions is not only of benefit to but also a necessity in the policy-making process. Although critical theoretical discussions and 'problem-solving' techniques may appear to be polar opposites, the observations of theorists such as Dryzek (1987) suggest that in reality the two approaches are often interdependent. Comparing the alienation-radicalisation hypothesis with the 1970 Falls Curfew, this discussion suggests that current approaches to counter-terrorism need to take into account the radicalising affect of alienation both for communities and for state forces. By learning the lessons of the Falls Curfew, we can see that making communities the focus of counter-terrorist initiatives is not enough and that there needs to be a partnership process between state and non-state actors. Looking at the Curfew through this framework, this article critiques current counter-terrorist policies and shows that if integration is the ultimate aim of these policies then it needs to come from both sides that and discussions of counter-terrorism, both academic and political, need to recognise this.
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Keywords: Britain; Falls Curfew; alienation; counter-terrorism; radicalisation; terrorism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK

Publication date: April 1, 2009

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