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The Center for Critical Democracy Studies

D.Rad Symposium Explores Radicalization Trends in Europe and Beyond

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On Wednesday, December 8, 2021, AUP’s Center for Critical Democracy Studies, a research center devoted to promoting the practice, study and life of democracy, hosted a symposium composed of the 17 research teams involved in the D.Rad research project: a comparative study of radicalization and polarization in Europe and beyond. D.Rad aims to identify the actors, networks and broader social contexts driving radicalization, particularly among young people in urban and peri-urban areas.  

The members of AUP’s research team, in their role as coordinators of the D.Rad reports on trends in radicalization, led a discussion about the project’s findings in relation to specific moments – or “hotspots” – of radicalization in historical, social and cultural contexts. The presenters discussed four major themes that emerged in their analysis of hotspots: 1) the temporal and agentive distinction between radical ideology and radical violent action; 2) understanding the impact of radicalization through different indicators such as the number of victims or attacks and the relative physical or material harm caused by attacks as opposed to their symbolic power; 3) the usefulness of the category “religious violence” from a radicalization perspective; and 4) how a “hotspots” approach reconsiders the relationship between civil society stakeholders and state action. 

The ensuing discussion covered topics such as the changeable dynamics of hate crimes, the efficiency of lone-wolf operations, and the “impersonalization” of radical movements in the context of digital radicalization. The team from the UK raised the importance of acknowledging right-wing radicalization and noted the prevalence of the supposed defense of history and preservation of cultural values as common justifications put forth in right-wing extremist ideology. The team from Finland discussed the links between radical violence and misogyny, while the team from Turkey discussed the relevance of deradicalization to minoritized identities. 

D.Rad is the shortened name for a European Research Council–funded Horizon 2020 research project titled “DeRadicalisation in Europe and Beyond: Detect, Resolve, Reintegrate.” Throughout 2021, Professors Stephen Sawyer and Roman Zinigrad of CCDS published four reports on radicalization processes in France as part of D.Rad. More coverage can be found on the Twitter accounts of CCDS (@AUP_CCDS) and the D.Rad consortium (@DRadProject). The published reports of the symposium can be read online here