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The hunt for the paper tiger: The social construction of cyberterrorism.

Thatcher, Sarah E.H (2007) The hunt for the paper tiger: The social construction of cyberterrorism. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

For two decades, there has been a high-profile debate on the issue of cyberterrorism. Politicians, law enforcement agents, the information security industry, other experts and the press have all made claims about the threats to and vulnerabilities in our society, who is responsible and what should be done. This is a UK study in the field of Information Systems based on interpretative philosophical assumptions. The framework for the study is provided by the concept of moral panic, propounded by Cohen (2002) and elaborated by Goode and Ben-Yehuda (1994) and Critcher (2003). Moral panic is used widely in the reference discipline of Sociology as a tool for investigating the social construction of social problems in cases where there is heightened public concern and intense media interest, closely followed by changes in legislation and social control mechanisms. This study employs moral panic as an heuristic device to assist in the investigation of the social mechanisms at work in the social construction of cyberterrorism. The corpus of data for analysis comprised articles from the UK national press relevant to cyberterrorism. A grounded theory approach was used to analyse these articles in order to identify images, orientations, stereotypes and symbolisation and to examine representational trends over time. Reflexivity in such a task is of the utmost importance, and the analytic process leading to an explanation of the social processes at work was deliberately divorced from the moral panic framework in order to guarantee rigour in the findings. The findings set out an explanation of how the concept of cyberterrorism has been constructed over two decades and compares this explanation with a framework provided by a model of moral panic. These findings are then linked to wider issues about national security, civil liberties and state control of information and communication technologies.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Information Technology
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
Departments > Information Systems and Innovation Group
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/3040

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