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Why are there so many Engineers among Islamic Radicals?

  • Diego Gambetta (a1) and Steffen Hertog (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 August 2009

This article demonstrates that among violent Islamists engineers with a degree, individuals with an engineering education are three to four times more frequent than we would expect given the share of engineers among university students in Islamic countries. We then test a number of hypotheses to account for this phenomenon. We argue that a combination of two factors – engineers’ relative deprivation in the Islamic world and mindset – is the most plausible explanation.


L'article montre que parmi les terroristes islamistes de par le monde, les ingénieurs et titulaires d’un diplôme d'enseignement supérieur scientifico-technique sont trois à quatre fois plus nombreux que selon leur part dans l’ensemble des diplômés supérieur. Différentes hypothèses sont explorées. La combinaison de deux facteurs – frustration relative des ingénieurs dans le monde islamique et état d'esprit semble fournir l'explication la plus plausible.


Der Aufsatz zeigt, daß weltweit unter militanten Islamisten mit Hochschulausbildung der Anteil der Ingenieure drei bis viermal hoeher ist, als man dies aufgrund der relativen Groeße verschiedener Fakultaeten in den Herkunftslaendern erwarten wuerde. Die Kombination zweier Faktoren – relative sozio-ökonomische Frustration der Ingenieure in der islamischen Welt und Eigenheiten ihrer Denkweise – scheint die plausibelste Erklärung zu sein.

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European Journal of Sociology / Archives Européennes de Sociologie
  • ISSN: 0003-9756
  • EISSN: 1474-0583
  • URL: /core/journals/european-journal-of-sociology-archives-europeennes-de-sociologie
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