Since the events of 9/11, terrorism has been framed in the prevailing public discourse as an all pervasive societal threat. In turn, the official response to this ‘new threat’ has created a pervasive atmosphere of anxiety where political fear bleeds into the fabric of daily life. At the same time, one of the liveliest areas of theoretical debate in social and political analysis in recent times is that addressing the phenomenon of risk and the role it plays in contemporary politics. Yet, and surprisingly enough, there has been little empirical research, hitherto, of the ways in which the risk of terrorism as the pre-eminent security preoccupation of western states is perceived by the public. Although there are some studies on the USA, this gap is all the more remarkable when it comes to Europe. Backed by a detailed comparative analysis of two European countries, the UK and Greece, this project aims to address this imbalance in a theoretically and methodologically progressive way. In theoretical terms, its overall aim is to develop an integrative theoretical framework for the analysis of terrorist risk perception that brings together key insights from disparate risk analysis research communities. In methodological terms, its key objective is to develop a new technique for mapping risk perceptions in the form of factor analysis. The above two contributions will, in turn, allow us to evaluate whether the risk of terrorism is perceived via pan-cultural cognitive patterns based on socio-demographic micro-determinants or whether the perceptions of the terrorist risk are determined by cultural and institutional macro-variables and are therefore highly variable.
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