Altruistic and Anomic Suicide: A Durkheimian Analysis of Palestinian Suicide Bombers

  •  Reem Abu-Lughod    
  •  Eduardo Montoya    


In the past two decades, suicide terrorism in its different forms has become a popular topic of research and debate. It has contributed to a different sense of normalcy and regularity in various societies across the world given that suicide bombings are relatively inexpensive and effective, compared with other kinds of terrorist methods. This study primarily focuses on suicide bombings in the Palestinian/Israeli territories, an area that has experienced conflict and tension for over six decades. In doing so, the research study uses Durkheim’s typology of suicide as a theoretical framework to trace the history of suicide bombings in the Palestinian/Israeli territories, outline the characteristics of suicide bombers, their motivations, and how suicide bombings have been used as a form of resistance to occupation. The data collected cover suicide bombings that have occurred from April 1994 to February 2008. The research study uses logistic regression to examine the characteristics of the suicide bombers and their attacks. The results show, among other things, that the attacks possess elements of both altruistic and anomic types of suicide in the Durkheimian sense of the word.

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