J. Peter Burgess
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Giving and taking responsibility for terrorism
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The chapter opens with a general conceptualisation and terrain-mapping of the notion of responsibility in moral, political, social and popular discourses. It then deepens the question by linking the notion to the discourse of accountability that dominates in bureaucratic governance, linking this with the analysis of responsibility advanced by Weber in Economy and Society. The chapter seeks to situate the work of the 22/7 Commission, developed in the previous chapter, in terms of the concept of bureaucratic versus political responsibility. It then engages in a detailed analysis of the act of ‘taking’ responsibility, its meaning and temporality, before turning to the paradoxes of taking responsibility in the Norwegian language. The chapter then applies the critique of responsibility to the Norwegian political class in the period leading up to the publication of the 22/7 Commission report, its link to political culture and values. After mapping the instrumental uses of the notion of responsibility, the chapter expands to encompass the trial of Anders Behring Breivik, and the prickly problem of assigning responsibility for a terrorist act while at the same time insisting on his unaccountable psychological condition.

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