1st Edition

Public Opinion and Counter-Terrorism Security and Politics in the UK

By Michael Lister Copyright 2023
    224 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book examines the ways in which the views of the public inhabit the counter-terrorism policy space, with a focus on the UK case.

    Drawing insights from Critical Terrorism Studies, Critical Security Studies and studies of public opinion, the book develops an argument that the relationship between public opinion is complex, iterative and mutually instantiating. Rather than public opinion and counter-terrorism policy existing in a simple, uni-directional causal relationship, the book argues that whilst counter-terrorism policy actors are informed by public opinion, in important ways they also construct that very opinion. This argument is made through an empirical analysis of UK counter-terrorism policy. Drawing on primary research interviews with key counter-terrorism policy actors, and security professionals, as well as original analysis of parliamentary debates, the book demonstrates that rather than UK counter- terrorism politics being closed and elite-driven, there exists a complex, dialectical relationship between public opinion and both the making and the implementing of counter-terrorism policy.

    This book will be of much interest to students of critical terrorism studies, counter-terrorism, security studies, British politics and communication studies.


    1. Security and the public

    2. Exploring Public Opinion: Beyond responsiveness

    3. Sources of Public Opinion information, 2001-15

    4. Representing public views in Parliament

    5. Political elites, Public Opinion and counterterrorism policy in the UK

    6. Private Security and Counterterrorism

    7. Security Professionals, Public Opinion and the delivery of counterterrorism policy in the UK



    Michael Lister is Professor in Politics, School of Social Sciences, Oxford Brookes University, UK. He is the author or editor of five books, including, most recently, The State: Theories and Issues 2nd Edition (with Colin Hay and David Marsh, 2022) and Anti-Terrorism, Citizenship and Security (with Lee Jarvis, 2015).

    'Drawing on a wealth of original research material, Public Opinion and Counter Terrorism offers a path-breaking interrogation of the complex and multiple connections between counter-terrorism policy and public opinion. Theoretically sophisticated and analytically nuanced, Michael Lister demonstrates a mastery of frequently disconnected academic fields, and an enviable capacity to bring these into conversation with each-other and his findings. The book will be essential reading for scholars of security, public opinion, British politics, and beyond. Deservedly so.'

    Lee Jarvis, University of East Anglia, UK


    A rare and exciting empirical insight to the ‘black box’ of policy-making, this book’s provocative analysis will invigorate security studies by surfacing the connect/disconnect between public opinion and elite security decision-making. Vital reading.'

    Timothy Legrand, University of Adelaide, Australia