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Reading the Mood: Atmospherics and Counterterrorism

Claire Yorke
RUSI Journal, 11 March 2020
Terrorism and Conflict, Information, Terrorism
Detecting the public mood in response to major events is a difficult, but important, step in developing strategic communications.

In the military, the concept of atmospherics is deployed to capture the environment within which operations take place, the receptivity of local populations, and how militaries are perceived. Yet, it is insufficiently developed within wider security debates. Claire Yorke asks what the concept means within national security policy and how it should it be defined, measured, and applied. Focusing on counterterrorism policy, she examines how reading the mood of society and community atmospherics can shape better policy. She contends that a more deliberate and conscious reading of the emotional, social and political landscape can inform strategic communications and contribute to more citizen-centric engagement.

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