Research Report

STUDYING VIOLENT RADICALIZATION IN EUROPE I: THE POTENTIAL CONTRIBUTION OF SOCIAL MOVEMENT THEORY

Anja Dalgaard-Nielsen
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2008
Pages: 19
OPEN ACCESS
https://www.jstor.org/stable/resrep13464
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 2-2)

    Why do some apparently well-integrated youth in Europe become attracted to Islamist militancy? Why and when do people cross from violent talk to violent action? What prevents others, exposed to the same political, ideological, and socioeconomic influences, from crossing? When and how might people de-radicalize and draw back from violent action? What policy initiatives would be called for to limit the spread of radical ideas, counter the factors that spur violent radicalization, and strengthen those, which pull in the other direction? In sum: When, why, and how do people living in a democracy become radicalized to the point of being...

  2. (pp. 3-8)

    What causes do radical groups mobilize around and when do these causes resonate with the potential recruits? What are the feed-back mechanisms from the surrounding society (counter-measures of the authorities, media coverage) on the radicalization process within these groups? Social Movement Theory (SMT) offers a way of studying these factors and has been applied in a number of historical studies of leftist and nationalist terrorism. SMT offers a way of conceiving violent radicalization with an explicit focus on the broader dynamics and processes of political mobilization. Whereas for example socio-psychological group process approaches focus on the individual and on group...

  3. (pp. 9-10)

    How do we explain the phenomenon of Islamist militancy and violent radicalization in Europe?

    Framing Theory highlights the process of radicalization rather than specific socioeconomic background factors or innate personal characteristics. It is thus able to account for the wide variety in the actual socioeconomic profiles (including well-educated and apparently well-integrated individuals) and life paths of individuals involved with Islamist militancy in Europe. The observable trend towards bottom-up emergence of small peer groups and still faster radicalization might be explained within Framing Theory by the existence of easily tapped and mobilized “sentiment pools” already sharing the grievances and attributional tendencies...

  4. (pp. 11-11)

    When, why, and how do people living in a democracy become radicalized to the point of being willing to use or directly support the use of terrorist violence against civilians, and when, why, and how might they de-radicalize and draw back from such action? The empirical basis for understanding the background factors and trigger events pushing or pulling people towards Islamist militancy is very limited. Moreover, there is no consensus within the research community as to which theories and approaches offer the most promising avenues for further exploration.

    This working paper has discussed various possible approaches within the subfield of...