A Critical Review of Empirical Evidence on Radicalisation; a Social Identity Theory Perspective

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Abstract

Early models of radicalisation of belief and the use of violence were described in terms of progressive linear models; staircases (Moghaddam, 2005), pathways (McCauley & Moskalenko, 2008) and conveyor belts (see Pankhurst, 2013). In association with the different proposed models, definitions of radicalisation are often chosen by the researcher, resulting in inconsistencies within theliterature. Research considered individuals’ risk factors or vulnerabilities to extremist attitudes and actions (eg Bhui et al, 2014), leading to the development and implementation of counterterrorist programmes (eg Prevent) and security policy. These policies fail to recognise that radicalisation is a complex interaction of dynamic processes, in which intergroup actions such as the surveillance of specific groups can lead to their disengagement from majority group members (Blackwood, Hopkins and Reicher, 2016). The current work argues that as radicalisation is often motivated by intergroup relations and plays a key role in maintaining intergroup conflict, Social Identity Theory can offer useful insights into this process. Indeed, McCauley and Moskalenko (2017)argue that participation in violent action is more related to activist behaviour than to radical beliefs. Drawing on the Social Identity Model of Collective Action, this review considers how empirical evidence on radicalised belief and behaviour to date is interpreted through the lens of Social Identity Theory and identifies directions for future study in the field.

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  • University of Ulster
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Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Psychology
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Aug 28
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes