This chapter examines applying theory to research with a focus on the discipline of international relations (IR). As terrorists are considered non-state actors, they tend to be excluded from IR research. However, by considering terrorist organisations as those that act strategically, we can use IR theory to understand terrorism. The chapter explores a number of IR theories in relation to understanding terrorism, borrowing from disciplines such as psychology, to further illustrate the importance of interdisciplinary social science research. The chapter also discusses the role of popular culture in IR studies. From here, an argument is made that terrorism studies should consider the role of power, ideology and identity. The chapter concludes with the idea that IR of ‘ordinary people’ might be useful in trying to understand terrorism.
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