Radicals, Revolutionaries, and Terrorists

Polity Press 2015
Radicals, revolutionaries, and terrorists

Social movements, revolutions, and terrorism share similar causes and processes. In my first book, I consider eight key questions for understanding radicalism. Ranging across the globe from the 1500s to the present, diverse cases are examined, e.g., 19th century anarchists, fascists, Che Guevara, the Weather Underground, Chechen insurgents, the Earth Liberation Front, Al-Qaeda, and the Arab Spring. Throughout, I demonstrate how to draw on multiple areas of research to better explain the forms movements take. The book is based on a seminar of the same name I have taught since 2010. Available from Amazon, Powell’s, Waterstones, and Wiley.



My primary area of expertise is revolutions. In my work on revolutionary waves, I find that cultural constructions of the transnational system strain regimes, fracture elites, and empower oppositions as well as make cross-national diffusion more likely. Articles published in Theory and Society and Social Science History have won awards from sections of the American Sociological Association. My latest project is a book-length study of comparative methods and knowledge accumulation in the study of revolution.

Social movements and terrorism

Social movements and terrorism

An interest in revolution almost necessarily leads to its contemporary counterparts: radicalism and terrorism. I use insights from sociology and social movement theory to explain different aspects of political violence. Currently, I am extending my research on terrorism designations to understand media labeling of militant groups.

The global and transnational

The global and transnational

I also work in the area of global and transnational sociology. My research here explores the dynamics of the international system. Gili Drori, John Meyer, and I continue to investigate human rights in national constitutions.

I am an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at Pomona College, and a faculty affiliate of the International Relations Program. My research lies in the areas of political and global-transnational sociology with quantitative and comparative-historical approaches. I am particularly interested in cases of social movement radicalism, such as revolution and terrorism.

I am currently Secretary-Treasurer of the American Sociological Association’s Comparative and Historical Sociology Section, a position I used to hold for the Global and Transnational Sociology Section, as well.

At Pomona, I co-founded the Social Science Research Confab. I teach courses on social movements, global sociology, research methods, and social theory, as well as introduction to sociology and senior seminar.

  • Address: 420 N. Harvard Ave, Claremont, CA 91711, USA
  • Phone: +1 909 621 8510
  • Email: cbeck@pomona.edu
  • Curriculum vitae: C.V.