J. Peter Burgess
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The chapter recounts the primary details of the Oslo/Utøya attacks of 22 July 2011 and the basic details about the convicted perpetrator. It sets out the framework for the documentation and analysis of the following chapters. It introduces the key concepts of ‘uncertainty’ and ‘disenchantment’, situating both in the respective literatures and developing the main arguments of the book. The chapter then presents the broad background for the book, first in security theory, then in relation to a development of the concept and practice of bureaucracy. Building on Weber’s concept of bureaucracy and its distinct insertion into the European modernisation process, the chapter joins this classical notion of modern sociology to another less widely used Weberian concept: disenchantment, understood as a disruption of the relation between spiritual and rational experience, and bringing it to bear on the case of Oslo/Utøya. The chapter takes up a number of methodological challenges that need to be addressed before embarking on a full analysis of the chapters to follow. In order to do so, it underscores the epistemological and metaphysical assumptions that lie behind any methodological position. Finally, it addresses the problem of the ‘event horizon’, that is, the notion that certain events, among these terrorist catastrophes, surpass experience and cognition.

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Security after the unthinkable

Terror and disenchantment in Norway

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