Description: Columnists and social media users commonly stated that terrorist attacks resonate differently in the world and they speculated on some potential reasons such as familiarity, number of victims, and the difference in expectations of a country to be a stage for a terrorist attack to explain this difference. An academic perspective, more specifically a sociological one, is needed to bring light to this debate. In this study, I aimed to understand the discourse after terrorist attacks and to find out if there is a difference between reactions to terrorist attack based on where they happened. This paper embraces a text mining approach to uncover what topics are discussed after four cases of terrorist attacks and to reveal if there is a discrepancy in reactions towards terrorist attacks based on the country they happened. The study consists of two parts. In the first part, the determinants of the public interest and support and how public interest differentiates between different cases of terror attacks is explored. In the second part, topic sentiment analysis is conducted to reveal the nature of the discourse on terrorism. Using the insights from social identity theory, realistic conflict theory and integrated threat theory, I argued that social group categorization in the context of terrorism takes place in a dichotomous manner as Western and Non-Western. This argument, social self-identities being based on ‘West vs. the Rest' mentality in the context of terrorism, is supported by the statistical evidence and the topic model. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
Date: December 2016
Creator: Demirhan, Emirhan