Rhianna Hayes


Terrorism is a complex topic to study. There is no consensus on what the word terrorism means, and there is even less consensus on why groups of people go out of their way to use terrorism as a form of political expression. Various analyses and studies have been conducted to attempt to explain this complex topic. Many of these studies have drawn from criminal justice research to apply criminological theories as an explanation for terrorism. The application of criminological theories provides one baseline for people to attempt to understand terrorism. At first glance, it may seem that criminological theories will not be able to explain why terrorist organizations function in the way that they do, but many consider acts of terror to be criminal acts as well. If acts of terror are considered criminal acts than it only makes sense that criminological theories can be used as a way to explain this violent form of political expression. Multiple criminological theories can be used to explain terrorism, but this paper will focus on applying Robert Agnew’s General Strain Theory (1992) and Derek B. Cornish and Ronald V. Clarke’s Rational Choice Theory (1986)

Publication Date


Document Type

Master's Project

Student Type


Degree Name

Criminal Justice (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Department of Criminal Justice (CLA)


Judy Porter


RIT – Main Campus