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Shell Shocked: The Social Response to Terrorist Attacks

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What is it that leaves us shell shocked in the face of the massacres carried out in New York on 9/11 or in Paris on 13 November 2015? How are we to explain the intensity of ? the reaction to the attacks on Charlie Hebdo Answering these questions involves trying to understand what a society goes through when it is subjected to the ordeal of terrorist attacks. And it impels us to try to explain why millions of people feel so concerned and shaken by them, even when they do not have a direct connection with any of the victims.

In Shell Shocked sociologist Gerome Truc sheds new light on these events, returning to the ways in which ordinary individuals lived through and responded to the attacks of 9/11, of 11 March 2004 in Madrid and 7 July 2005 in London. Analysing political language and media images, demonstrations of solidarity and minutes of silence, as well as the tens of thousands of messages addressed to the victims, his investigation brings about the complexity of our feelings about the Islamists' attacks. It also uncovers the sources of the solidarity that, in our individualistic societies, ultimately finds expression in the first person singular rather than the first person plural: 'I am Charlie', 'I am Paris.'

Author: Truc Gerome
Pages: 312
ISBN: 9781509520343
Cover: Paperback
Edition Number: 1
Release Year: 2018



Introduction: Terrorist attacks as a test

Part I: What is happening to us

Chapter 1: Under attack

9/11 live: accident, terrorist attack, or act of war?

The view from Europe: from Western solidarity to a cosmopolitan perspective

Chapter 2: Experiencing your own 9/11

11 March attacks like a new 9/11

7 July 2005, a British 9/11?

Chapter 3: To show, or not to show, violence

The place of the dead

The ethics of iconographic decisions

Chapter 4: Demonstrating solidarity

The attacks as a time to demonstrate

Why demonstrate after an attack?

Chapter 5: Observing silence

A ritual of collective mourning

A problem of moral equivalence

Part II: What touches us

Chapter 6: Terrorist attacks and their publics

From written reactions to the concerned publics

In what capacity an attack concerns us

Chapter 7: The meanings of we

Above and below the level of the nation

World cities and the test of terrorism

Chapter 8: The values at stake

Reactions to terrorist attacks as value judgments

The banal pacifism of the Europeans

Chapter 9: The attacks in persons

The singularization of the victims

Reacting as a singular person

Chapter 10: Solidarity in the singular

The attachment to place

The coincidence of dates

The homology of experiences

Conclusion: There's something of Charlie in all of us

Selective Bibliography



Gerome Truc is a sociologist and research associate at the Centre d'études des movements sociaux (Institut Marcel Mauss – EHESS/CNRS). He teaches at the École normale supérieure Paris-Saclay.

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