Within this essay, I base my understanding of political violence primarily on the social-structural theory. That is to say, social structural stains in society can kindle grievances that can lead to political violence, especially when those who are in power lack legitimacy (Gupta 2008, 24). Social movements take place when state authorities are not able to provide public goods, such as the protection from poverty, corruption, and the inability to protect citizens from external threats thus causing social unrest (Gupta 2008, 25). Over time, a population gains a sense of injustice, and even humiliation that creates social and political instability. When a society denies the legitimacy of a state actor, political violence can be seen as a legitimate form of resistance to achieve political change.
Political violence can be a morally legitimate and efficient way to oppose an authoritarian government; however, terrorism is an escalation and strategy of political violence, particularly that of targeting non-har...
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... the social strain theory would suggest that political dilemmas erupt when a state lacks legitimacy, which could legitimize political violence. However, it is challenging to distinguish between forms of political violence that are legal from forms that are illegal, like terrorism. Especially, when groups are claiming to achieve a common good for their communities thus a ‘terrorist without a cause is not a terrorist’ (Gupta 2008, 32). Targeting non-harming civilians, nonetheless, is illegitimate and hurts the legality of the movement. Nevertheless, it is imperative to understand the nature of the individual violent acts, the intention behind the acts, and the meaning of the act before labeling an act as terrorism (Bryan, Kelly and Templer 2011, 7). However, intentionally using noncombatants as a weapon to achieve political change is illegitimate under any circumstance.
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