Study to adopt new approach to understand violent extremism
Bataclan Theatre attack © Maya-Anaïs Yataghène

Study to adopt new approach to understand violent extremism

Experts from 13 countries have said that a new approach is needed to understand what attracts some young people to convert to violent extremist groups.

Experts have come together to find out how and why young people become radicalised and what society can do to effectively counter violent extremism.

The €5m Dialogue About Radicalisation and Equality (DARE) research project is funded under the Horizon 2020 programme and includes academics and civil society organisations specialising in youth studies and political extremism from Norway, France, Turkey, Poland, Russia, Tunisia, the UK, Germany, Netherlands, Greece, Malta, Belgium and Croatia.

Professor Hilary Pilkington, a sociologist from the University of Manchester in the UK and co-ordinator of DARE, said: “The traditional approach to terrorist research is failing because it tends to start by focusing on acts and agents of terrorism, such as the mass shooting at the Bataclan Theatre rock concert in Paris or the suicide bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, and recent terrorist incidents in London.

“After such incidents, the imperative is to start with the perpetrators – those who have crossed the threshold of violent extremism – and work backwards to try to understand why.

“The DARE project will take a much wider focus and talk to the 99.9% of people who hear the same messages of hate and extremism – and maybe flirt with them, but drop them or consciously counter them – and give us a control group to help our understanding of why a tiny minority take the path to violence.”

This, say the researchers, could have important lessons in creating a more effective prevention strategy and provides an opportunity to take a more insightful look at the root causes of violent extremism than is possible for policy makers and journalists responding to terrorist attacks.
The DARE project aims to use its research findings to develop, pilot and evaluate educational toolkits and a de-radicalisation programme evaluation tool to enhance the effectiveness of counter-radicalisation interventions. It will target both ‘religious fundamentalism’ and ‘violence and hate crime’.